In the Department of Dance, Drama, and Film we study plays, films, and dance, and how they are brought to life for an audience. Our liberal arts approach helps students develop their analytical, imaginative, and collaborative skills and encourages them to make connections to other fields of study. In this department, students learn to make informed aesthetic choices by doing the jobs of the artists who make these works. Some courses concentrate on the historical, theoretical, and cultural context of dances, plays, and films; others explore the craft of the artists: the playwright, screenwriter, choreographer, actor, dancer, director, designer, and filmmaker.
The curriculum for each discipline in the Department follows a similar structure. Students develop a shared vocabulary in a required Introductory class before taking a variety of studio and theory courses. Working closely with faculty advisors, majors complete a capstone senior thesis project. Many choose to engage in creative activity for this thesis project, but students also have the option of doing historical or critical research. All courses in the Department, outside of the senior thesis tutorial, are available to every student in the College; certain courses have prerequisites noted in the course descriptions. All students are invited to audition for the roles in our Mainstage season.
The Department emphasizes collaboration, process, and exploring a chosen art form from multiple perspectives. We nurture understanding of the self and the other, with the goal of creating “whole artists,” who are informed, productive, and compassionate citizens of the Kenyon community and the larger world.
Our learning goals for the Department are outlined here. Not every class will address every learning goal, but the curriculum as a whole supports achievement of the following outcomes:
The Senior Capstone is the primary measure of achievement for our majors. The Capstone
consists of three parts:
1. Senior thesis project: Seniors engage in a faculty-advised project to demonstrate their
proficiency in one specialized aspect of dance, drama, or film. This project is shared with others,
usually in the form of a public presentation or performance.
2. Thesis orals: After their senior project is completed, students meet with a faculty committee
to engage in an oral discussion of their project. We assess how well students are able to
discuss and support their choices and whether they have continued to contemplate challenges
and successes in their work and the collaborative process.
3. Senior comprehensive exams: The exams have a different format for each discipline in the
Department, but the focus is on assessing students’ ability to explain and apply theoretical and
historical knowledge in written format.
The senior thesis project assesses students’ ability to collaborate and to make or evaluate
artistic statements through creative or theoretical projects. The oral defense assesses their
ability to communicate verbally and requires them to defend choices and engage in substantive
conversation about their thesis. The comprehensive exam assesses their ability to write
articulately and formulate arguments, measuring students’ knowledge of:
1. Fundamental elements of theory, structure, and aesthetics reinforced throughout our
2. Creative and historical motifs in dances, plays, or films and how these cultural
developments influence the arts that follow.
3. Important contributions by current and past artists in the world; the value of their work
and the specific artistic choices they have made.
Students receive a grade for the project, with emphasis being placed on the process and not the
product. The oral defense is pass/fail. At least two faculty grade each anonymously written
comprehensive exam. A student may earn Distinction with exceptional performance on all three
components of the Senior Capstone.
1. The Department meets annually to prepare the General Education Assessment Report and
the Departmental Outcomes Assessment Report. These reports require us to evaluate how well
specific courses, and our curricula as a whole, meet the College’s general education goals and
whether we need to make changes to our curricula, pedagogy, or evaluative methods. As part
of this process, the Department considers the results of the Senior Capstone.
2. The Department utilizes an annual Senior Survey to further assess our programs.
3. External review results and recommendations provide useful feedback that is revisited
Updated spring 2020