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W38 Duffy

Peter Duffy


University of South Carolina

I Had a Gut Feeling -The relationship between the body, emotions, drama and learning

90 minutes


This hands-on workshop shares recent advances in educational cognitive neuroscience research and explains why drama practitioners and teachers should care. Research provides ever more insight into the relationship between emotions, the body, the imagination, and learning. Embodied pedagogies such as drama sit at the center of these overlapping research foci. Practitioners have long known intuitively that drama deepens and extends learning. Now we have scientific evidence to help us understand how and why that is true.

Through exercises, discussion, and presentation of research, workshop participants will gain powerful and embodied evidence to support the role of drama in schools and in learning. Topics to be covered include embodied cognition, cognitive projection and mental models, the role of emotions in learning, the relationship between the body, the release of hormones due to body movement and their relationship to learning, and cognitive dimensions of creativity.

Dr. Peter Duffy is a professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of South Carolina. There he heads the Master of Arts in Teaching program in theatre education working with graduate students studying to become drama teachers. He teaches courses in applied theatre, arts-based research, dramatic literature for youth, creative drama, methods of teaching drama, children’s theatre and co-facilitates arts-based research with pre-service teachers. He uses theatre engagements with schools as a means to activate student learning within communities to create dialogue around issues of concern to them. Previous to USC, Peter was the Director of Education and Community Outreach at the Irondale Ensemble in Brooklyn, NY. There he led professional developments with teaching artists and classroom teachers on drama as pedagogy and performance assessments. Additionally, Peter taught middle and high school German, English and Drama for a decade in Maine and New Jersey. He also has worked as an actor/teacher in New York City schools. He is the author of several articles and book chapters and co-edited the books, Youth and Theatre of the Oppressed (Palgrave, 2010), A Reflective Practitioner’s Guide to (mis)Adventures in Drama Education – or – What was I Thinking? (Intellect, 2015), and Drama Based Research: Provocations of Practice (Brill, 2019). His forthcoming edited book, Devising in Times of Crisis, will be out in early 2024. He speaks nationally and internationally about drama education; arts-based research; cognition, learning and education; applied theatre; schools and schooling; and devising and playmaking.

Early Childhood, Primary/Elementary, Secondary, Teacher Education; communication and understanding; Formal education, community education, teacher education, curriculum theory and practice

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