Journal Prompts

On this page, you will find:

  • 1 – Benchmark Deadlines: Below you’ll find a table outlining the due dates and materials required for the three journal benchmarks.

  • 2 – Journal Prompts: Scroll down to find a chart with the (bi)weekly prompt options provided by the professor. The prompts are separated into four columns, A, B, C & D.

For more information about this assignment, please see the “Journal Requirements” page.

Journal Benchmark Guide

Due DateBenchmarkWhat’s Due
Saturday, October 15th at 12:00 pm (noon)25%– Your journal should have at least two published entries.

– Of the two entries, no more than 1 should be published as private.
Wednesday, November 23rd at 12:00 pm (noon)50%– Your journal should have at least four published entries.

– Of the four, at least one entry should respond to a prompt from EITHER column A OR column B.

– Of the four, at least one entry should respond to a prompt from column C.

– Of the four entries, no more than 2 should be published as private (unless otherwise discussed with professor).
Friday, December 16th at 12:00 pm (noon)100%– Your journal should have at least eight published journal entries.

– Of those eight, no more than four should be published as private.

– Of the eight, at least 2 should respond to a prompt from column A; 2 to a prompt from column B; and 2 to a prompt column C.

– Of the eight, one must be a self-directed entry (column D).

– Along with your at least eight published entries, your completed journal should include an additional journal reflection post. More details about the required reflection post will be provided after Thanksgiving. However you can read the “Journal Requirement” page for a head up about the reflection.

Journal Prompts

Roughly, every other week, I will post at least one prompt in columns A, B, and C. Occasionally, I may offer more than one prompts in one or more of the columns. You do not need to respond to more than one prompt per prompt week. If I give more than one prompt in any given column, I will add an additional row, so please be mindful of the week number.

Reminder. By the end of the semester your completed journal must contain AT LEAST 8 entries. Of those 8 entries, AT LEAST: 2 entries responding to prompts from column A; 2 entries responding to prompts from column B; 2 entries responding to prompts from column C; and 1 self-directed entry (Column D).

WeekColumn AColumn BColumn CColumn D
1Watch the YouTube clip of Bill T Jones solo performance again (linked on class site). Phase 4 lasts for almost two and a half minutes. [Time Stamp: 5:32 – 8:00] Choose 20 – 37 seconds of the movement in phase four to examine more closely in your journal. Your examination should consider the following: – What are you looking at? (How would you describe the movement that takes place in this 20- 37 second excerpt?) – What is the relationship between the content (what’s expressed or signified in the piece) and the form (the physical aesthetic choices that go into communicating that expression)? – How does this excerpt of phase four compare to the same set of movements in phases 1, 2, and 3? – How does the movement in this excerpt of phase four engage movements and/or other cultural signs outside this particular performance?Watch the YouTube clip of Bill T Jones solo performance again (linked on class site). When he performs the phrase in stage one, it is roughly 24 seconds long [Time stamp: 00:38 – 1:02]. Choose 3 – 8 seconds (1/4 – 1/3) of the choreography that you find compelling. Find a place where you can move. Learn that portion of the choreography. You don’t have to be perfect at executing the movements, but you should know them enough that you can walk through them without watching the film or reading notes. Now attempt to do the 4 phrases for this 3 – 8 seconds of choreography that you’ve learned. (The first phase you’ve already practiced several times by now.)

In your journal, you have the option of uploading a video of your performance of the 4 phases. OR if you prefer not to record yourself, you may write out a description of the portion you focused on, your experience learning it, how the different phases felt, what you observed about your body, your thoughts, and your feelings (particularly in stages 3 and 4).

You may also do a version of both by uploading a video of your performance along with a brief reflection on the performance and the experience of creating it.
Watch the YouTube clip of Bill T Jones solo performance again (linked on class site). Imagine that you had to stage your movement at this coming week (instead of at the end of the semester) and as such the only course text you had to draw upon was this barely 8 minute performance. What aspect of the performance would you choose to engage? Why? How? In your journal, spend some time answering these questions. Note in order to answer the question, you should also brainstorm however tentative an actual movement piece. So think about whether you’d do a political (demonstration) movement or an expressive (artistic) movement. What would this movement focus on and what might it look like?Self-Directed
2In our 9/15 class, I introduced theorist Houston Baker’s idea that the black cultural tradition can be described as adopting one of two strategic relationships to the formal practices of dominant or mainstream society: “mastery of form” and “deformation of mastery.” For this journal exercise: 1) Identify two different black cultural texts: one that you believe is a demonstration of what Baker terms “mastery of form” and one that you believe is a demonstration of what Baker calls “deformation of mastery.” At least one of your textual examples must come from one of our course texts. The second may example may come from a course text or a cultural text outside the course. 2) In your journal, spend some time A) describing the two cultural texts; B) explaining what about the texts makes them respectively a demonstration of “mastery of form” and “deformation of mastery”; and C) compare and contrast the two texts with particular attention to their respective limitations and possibilities. TBDAccording to dancer-scholar Thomas DeFrantz, part of what made Ailey’s Revelations so successful is that the piece brings together the negro spiritual tradition to the technically demanding world of concert dance in a way that allowed the piece to speak to a wide variety of audiences including not only dance critics but also “the people” as Ailey referred to laypeople, particularly black laypeople, who did not see themselves reflected in concert dance culture. The version of the spirituals we hear in Revelations though is already itself the product of blending black vernacular or folk culture with the seemingly more sophisticated concert tradition of western music. It stems from the work of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a brilliant cultural and political project that we can think of in terms of Baker’s notion of “mastery of form.” So then, Ailey brings one rich tradition of black mastery of form together with black dancers’ master or concert dance techniques.

Mastery of Form + Mastery of Form = The Revelatory Game Changing Experience of Revelations

In your journal, contemplate how you might adopt a similar strategy in the movement piece you will stage at the end of the semester. Whether you’re thinking of staging an explicitly political or an explicitly aesthetic piece, you can still borrow from this formula. Start by imagining a form that you (and/or your group members) want to prove you have mastery in. (Perhaps it’s delivering a rally speech – politics – or perhaps its tagging – expressive and/or political.) Then imagine a form in which you and/or your group members have already have a tradition of demonstrated mastery. (Perhaps it’s a particular basketball move or a coding technique.) Now brainstorm possible ways in which you can bring the latter form together with the former that help you foreground you and/or your group’s mastery of both forms, but particularly the former.
Reminder: You have one free entry for which you can pick a prompt from any of the four columns.