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|2013 Working Sessions|
#A2. Indigenous Research in the Americas: Exploring the Liminality between Cultural Epistemologies (2 Hour Session)
Conveners: Adron Farris, University of Georgia (email@example.com) and Heidi L. Nees, Bowling Green State University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jeff Corntassel states that "there is a danger in allowing colonization to be the only story of Indigenous lives. It must be recognized that colonialism is a narrative in which the Settler’s power is the fundamental reference and assumption, inherently limiting Indigenous freedom and imposing a view of the world that is but an outcome or perspective on that power” (601). In continuation with previous themes from the Indigenous Research in the Americas ASTR working group, this year’s proposal focuses on Western research methodologies, mentalities, and attitudes that are in need of reconciliation. As a point of departure, our working session will focus on what Peter M. Whiteley considers the "liminality between epistemologies,” with an emphasis on indigenous methodologies as a counter-narrative to Western methodologies.
Channeling Diana Taylor’s ideas of the "archive and the repertoire,” we encourage participants to interrogate conditions relating to the "post” in contemporary scholarship and performance in order to move beyond binaried structures of thought. For instance, is it possible to reach a status "post” the archive/repertoire binary? What new spaces are created when we consider the liminal space between Native and non-Native epistemologies? How are these spaces formed, and most importantly, by whom? How are these spaces documented / performed?
While Taylor’s ideas on the archive and repertoire are widely circulated in indigenous discourse, we have noticed that our scholarship processes continue to heavily rely on Western-based notions of research, which often culminate in academic papers for the "archive.” This year’s working group will attempt to complicate such notions of research by incorporating various forms of performance that help to exemplify the current flux in scholarship, both from a Native and Western point of view.
Conveners: Catherine Cole (University of California, Berkeley), Megan Lewis (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), and Jisha Menon (Stanford University). Direct correspondence and proposals to (email@example.com)
Responding to ASTR's call to "Live Large. Think Big,” this working session, Performance Studies in/from the Global South, frames a geographically expansive conversation among such potential sites as Africa, Latin America, South Asia, China, Turkey, and the Middle East. For the purposes of this session, we are eschewing the continental framings of area studies, along with its Cold War pedigree, while at the same time valuing deeply area studies’ attention to locational specificity and in-depth knowledge. We also acknowledge the legacy of "post-colonial” framings that so dominated the 1990s, along with the problems of its temporal assumptions: the "post” of today might more accurately be called "neo.”
Working with the concept of "the global south,” our session lives large and thinks big without eschewing the energy and the imagination of the particular and the small. We will take as our starting point Jean and John Comaroff's recent book Theory From The South: Or, How Euro-America is Evolving Toward Africa. While we debate the teleology implied by the word "evolving” in its subtitle, we find quite provocative this text's overarching question: "What if . . . in the present moment, it is the global south that affords privileged insight into the workings of the world at large?”(1) From this, we ask:
Conveners: David Calder, Northwestern University (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Eero Laine, The Graduate Center, CUNY (email@example.com)
In The Experience Economy, Joseph Pine and James Gilmore tout the marketing of experiences as key to corporate success. "This new economy,” they write, "also demands new models for work. At every level in any company, workers need to understand that in the Experience Economy every business is a stage, and therefore work is theatre.” This working session will analyze the work of theatre and performance in the service of the corporate world. Our intentionally provocative title "Corporate Tools” encompasses both performance practices—Broadway musicals crafted as brand enhancers, MFA designers hired to stage flagship stores, the absorption of avant-gardes by the advertising industry—and performance theories—corporate personhood as a redefinition of the performing subject, audience interaction as advanced consumerism, and what Jon McKenzie has identified as the imperative to "Perform or Else.” Such practices and theories act on and within a shifting landscape of multinational production chains, global flows of capital, and increasingly privatized public spaces. Particularly in our host city of Dallas, where Big Oil subsidizes an impressive art scene, it behooves us to explore the various reconfigurations of production and consumption as inherently theatrical. The working group will address issues related, but not limited to:
Conveners: Michelle R. Baron, Hobart and William Smith Colleges (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Catherine Ming T’ien Duffly, Reed College (email@example.com)
How do notions of community structure our field, both through our artistic and our intellectual engagements? In times where the "business” of colleges and universities is increasingly about meeting a bottom line and arts and humanities programs are under continued scrutiny, community is a discourse invoked by scholars and administrators alike. We often articulate the value of the arts for the 21st century as providing a crucial platform for coming together despite ever widening social chasms. Arts education is also championed as offering opportunities for learning the collaborative skills demanded by an increasingly networked world. Thus despite critiques of community launched by a number of scholars in theater and performance studies (Joseph, Kwon, Kestler) community continues to operate as a dominant discourse, not only as a utopic aspiration (Muñoz, Dolan) and moral imperative, but also as a survival strategy. What do these investments in the discourse and practice of community reveal about our field? Do they operate as anathema to an individualistic and corporatized society, or do they serve as a source of homogenization and economic strategy?
Drawing from Lauren Berlant’s Cruel Optimism, this working group seeks to interrogate the tensions inherent in engaging community. For Berlant, the condition of cruel optimism is created when "something you desire is actually an obstacle to your flourishing.” In what ways does our disciplinary investment in community leave us in this type of bind? Is our engagement with community cruelly optimistic, or is community a structure worth cling to?
Building from the exciting conversations from our ASTR 2012 working group "Interrogating the Romance of Community Theater and Performance,” this working group will continue to interrogate the potential and problematics of "community.” Rather than focusing on "community theater” or "community based performance,” we consider "community” as a discourse and practice at the center of theater and performance studies scholarship. The goal of this working group is two-fold: to continue our conversations on the tensions inherent in articulations of community in theater and performance; and to investigate that investment in community at the heart of our disciplines. Questions participants might address include: are theater and performance inherently community oriented? Can theater create communities out of previous disparate groups? What types of ethical responsibilities are created by the formation of community? Is community itself an ethical imperative? What’s the relationship between community and economic structures? How, historically, has the field engaged with notions of community and community engagement? While we’re interested in investigations of singular sites of community, we are also seeking papers which interrogate the meaning of community in the sites they engage, and the ethics of those engagements.
Conveners: Jimmy A. Noriega, College of Wooster (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Analola Santana, Dartmouth College (Analola.Santana@dartmouth.edu)
Historically, the Americas have been constructed through a hierarchy that moves from East to West, North to South. From the imperial/colonial project, through independence, and into the age of U.S. military and economic control, the hemisphere was mapped through systems of power that placed Latin American in a position of subordinate "other” to Europe and the United States. In 1935, Joaquín Torres García subversively inverted the map of South America, claiming: "our North is the South […]. That is why we now turn the map upside down, and now we know what our true position is, and it is not the way the rest of the world would like to have it.” For Latina/os in the U.S., these tensions are further exacerbated by exploitation, marginalization, and misrepresentation. In 1987, Gloria Anzaldúa pointed to the problematic effects of geopolitical divisions, citing the creation of borders as a source of pain and ruptured identity: "Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them […]. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants.” Despite these bold repositionings and claims to geographical space, the Americas continue in a path of inequality.
These tensions have affected the ways scholars approach and understand theatrical movements and histories across the hemisphere. This working session seeks to question the significance of space on theatrical production and reception in the Latina/o Americas. In what ways have theatrical histories of the Americas been mapped? Who is doing the mapping and who is the intended audience? How do we (re)position the Latina/o Americas within our theatrical imaginaries in a way that allows its people, culture, and histories agency and subjectivity? Where do we locate liminal performances within these new formations? What are the repercussions of these new visions of mapping?
Last year, we began an exciting conversation that brought together both Latina/o and Latin American scholars. For this upcoming working session, we hope to continue our discussion and include new voices. We invite papers from artists and scholars that consider the following, among others: 1) a (re)examination of national and regional theatre histories; 2) trajectories of particular groups, artists, or authors; 3) the theorization of the hemispheric divide; 4) the impact of globalization, migration, and neoliberal policies; 5) and critiques of theatre scholarship and the academy.
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Conveners: Marlis Schweitzer, York University (email@example.com) and Joanne Zerdy, Independent Scholar (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Victorian "object lessons,” designed to teach children to make careful observations of discrete objects and their own surroundings through a language educed from the objects, act as the impetus for our working group. What lessons might we learn (as artists, scholars, educators) by closely attending to and following the paths of physical objects and how they shape theatre – and performance-making and research? Our session seeks participants with a diverse range of sites and research questions who are committed to investigating networks of, and relationships between, physical objects, technologies, natural and built environments, and/or human and nonhuman bodies. We draw on methodologies and theories within and beyond theatre and performance studies, including, but not limited to, actor-network theory, thing theory, object-oriented ontology, material culture, and "posthuman” studies in its various forms. Our group will serve as a dynamic hub for those tracing the vibrant and influential qualities of theatrical things and querying a subject-object or nature-culture binary in performance.
Papers might address the following questions:
The Shakespearean Performance Research Group of the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) provides an ongoing home for the study of Shakespearean performance within ASTR. In the spirit of the open-themed Dallas ASTR conference, this year’s proposed Shakespearean Performance Research Group (SPRG) seeks to maintain a focus limited only by Shakespearean performance. For the 2013 meeting, the SPRG plans to invite papers that broadly interrogate what is meant by Shakespearean performance. For example, this questioning might involve the interplay between early and late modern performance in some dimension, the cultural work that Shakespearean drama and performance continue to do, the ways in which relationships between the "literary” and the "performative” have been construed over more than 400 years of performance, the theories and legacies of Shakespearean performance across performance media, how Shakespeare performance constructs and is constructed by specific communities. Papers accepted to previous sessions have tended to address questions of practical theatre, specific issues in history and historiography, and theoretical concerns, but we are looking for a wide range of engagements with Shakespeare and performance.
Conveners: Ben Gunter, Florida State University (email@example.com), Karen Berman, Georgia College (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ian Borden, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, (email@example.com), Nena Couch, Ohio State University (firstname.lastname@example.org), David Pasto, Oklahoma City University (email@example.com), Susan Paun de García, Denison University, (firstname.lastname@example.org), Kerry Wilks, Wichita State University (email@example.com), Amy Williamsen, University of North Carolina Greensboro, (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Jason Yancey, Grand Valley State University (email@example.com)
Join an interdisciplinary team exploring the Siglo de Oro’s instructive teatro breve - one-act plays with potent clues for building better ways to teach, stage, and research the richest script library known to history. Teatro breve from the Spanish Golden Age (c. 1580-1680) includes satires and saint’s plays, star vehicles and character studies, musicals and thrillers, current-events commentaries and gripping meditations on metatheater, written by big-name playwrights—the cream of Spanish stagecraft, compressed for effective study.
To bid for a role in this groundbreaking journey through little-studied territory, write us a short statement (350 words) about the skills, interests, and/or experiences that attract you to our exploration of teatro breve. Please include a brief bio (50 words). Send your statement and bio as MS Word attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 3. We hope to hear from you. We assure you that complete newcomers to the field will be warmly welcomed.
Conveners: Katherine Biers, Columbia University (email@example.com) and Sharon Marcus, Columbia University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In response to the conference call to "think big,” our workshop explores nineteenth-century theater as a global phenomenon. Throughout the nineteenth century, performers and plays circulated extensively between Europe, North America, South America, Australia, Asia, and Africa. International stars such as Bernhardt and Salvini performed in their native tongues throughout the world, while many of the plays performed in English in the U.K. and U.S. were freely adapted from German and French. Entire productions, with elaborate props, costumes, and stage machinery, frequently crossed the Atlantic and sometimes even toured the world.
What methods, models and materials are best suited to theorizing the transnationalism of nineteenth-century theater? To what extent can theatre history draw on existing frameworks such as Immanuel Wallerstein's world systems theory, Pascale Casanova's account of the republic of letters, or David Damrosch's definition of world literature—none designed with performance culture in mind? Conversely, how can we use nineteenth-century theater to generate new models of global culture? How did nineteenth-century theater itself theorize transnationalism?
Understanding the global dimensions of theater requires crossing disciplinary as well as national borders. We therefore solicit participation from scholars who study performance, visual culture, film and media, and printed texts, and hope to involve some first-time ASTR attendees.
Conveners: Mary Isbell, University of Connecticut (email@example.com) and Nancy E. Friedland, Columbia University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The "unconference,” often associated with THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp), has encouraged experimentation within traditional academic conferences. See, for example, the traces of the Digital Pedagogy Unconference at MLA 2013. In an unconference, the session leader does not set the agenda, participants do not give presentations, and papers are not circulated in advance. The goal is not to display knowledge, but to facilitate collaboration toward a common goal. For ASTR 2013, we are offering an unconference on DH and Theatre Research to build on the work initiated with the session "Digital Humanities and the Performing Arts” at ASTR 2012 and to supplement the plenary on "Big Data and the Performing Arts” scheduled for ASTR 2013.
There are a number of fascinating examples of the ways in which technology can offer new opportunities for theatre research, including Emily Roxworthy’s 3D role-playing video game Drama in the Delta, the digital model Hugh Denard created for Abbey Theatre, 1904, the interactive digital archive built through Stephen Johnson’s Juba Project, and Jennifer Roberts-Smith’s Simulated Environment for Theatre. These projects, equal parts inventive and productive, can also seem inaccessible to those who are interested in digital humanities work but unsure how to begin. This unconference seeks to build on existing DH projects and generate ideas for new projects by promoting conversations between experienced digital humanists and theatre scholars new to the field. The session will begin with a brief explanation of the ground rules for a successful unconference. We will then vote on which sessions proposed in advance by participants will be most useful for the entire group. We’ll break into groups based on interest in the various topics for a 50-minute conversation. After that, we’ll take a quick break and then do another 50-minute round of concurrent conversations. For the final 15 minutes of the workshop, we’ll reconvene for parting thoughts and encourage participants to continue their conversations on the website.
Conveners: Kate Bredeson, Reed College (email@example.com) and Jason Fitzgerald, Columbia University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The multiple comparisons between the emergence of Occupy Wall Street in 2011 and student activism of the 1960s marks the latest in a long tradition of measuring contemporary activism and cultural production against that period. Therefore, in the spirit of the "post-thematic,” we propose to address a "post-” that structures many prevailing performances, paradigms, and theories dominating our field today. For many worldwide, the Sixties represents both the last great era of revolutionary promise and the last gasp of industrial capitalism, followed by the global instantiation of a neoliberal hegemony that claims freedom and equality, buzzwords of the 1960s, as foundations for a "new spirit of capitalism.” To artists and scholars, the Sixties equally stands as an era of fundamental change in the means and ends of making and studying performance, with the co-evolution of performance studies and so-called postmodern aesthetics in its wake. The perceived failures or successes of the much mythologized Sixties have thus structured a variety of theoretical, aesthetic, and scholarly production ever since, allowing the period to be an object of desire, nostalgia, mourning, repudiation, and reproduction.
This working group will assess the continued afterlife of "the Sixties” in aesthetic and theoretical production related to theatre and/or performance, particularly as they are invoked in our current cultural moment. This session is not "about” the Sixties, nor will it repeat valuable analysis of the legacies of 1960s theatre companies. Rather, it is an exploration of how post-Sixties performance and theory looks back on this period while constructing it anew. We will solicit papers that investigate the relation between the Sixties (which, following Fredric Jameson, we extend as late as 1974 and expand to a global context) and the various theoretical and aesthetic concerns since its conclusion, in the hope of articulating reverberations, questions, and provocations that continue to mark the life of the ‘post-Sixties’ today.
Possible topics might include:
Conveners: Jenna L. Kubly, Independent Scholar (JLKubly@yahoo.com) and Elizabeth Reitz Mullenix, Miami University (email@example.com)
As part of the ongoing theatre of war working group, we seek to continue our exploration of war’s relationship to theatre and performance. The investigation of multiple theatres of war is relevant because the presentation of war - whether a current conflict or an ancient one - always involves the performance of ideology and identity; we fight for freedom, religion, world domination, resources vital to human survival — essential things, big things. The working group seeks to bring together a diverse group of scholars, methodologies, and research interests to continue our conversation about the complex representation of war in culture, and the performative nature of war in its various theatres. Papers might address how plays, performances, musicals, operas, popular entertainments, re-enactments, and dance relate to these ideas:
Conveners: Kati Sweaney, Northwestern University (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Aileen Robinson, Northwestern University (email@example.com)
Scientists have a long history of adopting performance practices as a means of manufacturing professional authority. The public dissection theatres of early modern Europe, the 18th-century parlor-room demonstrations of everything from air-pumps to phrenology, the spectacular electricity shows of Tesla and Edison, the performing hysterics in the Tuesday lectures of Freud’s teacher Charcot, and the contemporary phenomenon of the TED conference—all these are not simply entertainments with a scientific theme. Each event adjudicates between critical performance practices, scientific ideas, and cultural authorities, enacting embodied relationships between scientists and objects. Because the interdisciplinary field of science studies seeks a broad cultural understanding of how scientific knowledge is made, it has vigorously taken up performance as a new critical lens (as the 2010 special issue of the science history journal Isis demonstrates). However, we have observed that little of this valuable contemporary work on scientific performance has been written by scholars of performance, and that most of such scholarship tends to use performance as a metaphor, rather than as a methodology. In this working session, we will open up a space for performance scholars to critically assess and contribute to scholarship in this field. We invite papers that interrogate the relationship between the truth-making claims of science and performance, broadly understood. Possible topics for inquiry include:
Conveners: Lisa A. Freeman, University of Illinois at Chicago (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Tracy C. Davis, Northwestern University (email@example.com)
"Theatre Histories: Large x Small” seeks ambitious scholarly projects that either take up "large” topics across periods or places with a commitment to excavating local and particular circumstances or that adopt a concentrated temporal or geographical focus with an eye to trans-temporal and global resonances. Such histories might include studies of affect; histories of race, sexuality, or gender; performance genealogies; the history of an idea or concept; encompass a microhistory with macro implications; or focus on a case study that reaches beyond its ostensibly discrete scope to articulate larger claims. Given the scale of the projects under discussion, the working session will raise questions about the sometimes-uneven relationships between "history” and "historiography” and between historical themes, research methods, and the explanatory tools at our disposal. Proposals to participate in this session should include a description of the topic as well as signal one or more of the following issues:
This session is designed to function in the mode of a dynamic and spirited workshop: a space where scholars with different sub-specialties in theater, dance, and performance studies can engage in an open and wide-ranging discussion of the particular challenges involved and strategies used in writing "local” or "global,” "situated” or "transtemporal” histories.
Conveners: Rhonda Blair, Southern Methodist University (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Amy Cook, Indiana University (email@example.com)
The research group in Cognitive Science in Theatre, Dance and Performance solicits proposals that focus on what interdisciplinary research in the cognitive sciences can do for our interest in disciplinary questions. For the last few years our group has continued to adapt its focus and form in order to meet the changing needs of this young area. This year we challenge participants to apply a particular piece of research from the sciences to their projects. With this goal in mind, potential participants should include with their abstract proposal an article or book chapter from the sciences that has influenced their thinking. Participants should make their own method explicit in the process of arguing that something useful is revealed about performance (or theatre, or history, or drama, or dance) through the application of research within the cognitive sciences. A primary objective of this working group is to reinforce rigorous standards for our research as cognitive science establishes itself as an emerging methodology of study in theatre, dance and performance studies.
Applications should include:
a) a description of the applicant’s area of study within theatre, dance and performance,
Conveners: Daniel Mroz, University of Ottawa (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Kris Salata, Florida State University (email@example.com)
The Performance as Research Working Group engages with scholarship that is both grounded in praxis and informed by theory. The Working Group invites artists, scholars and artist-scholars to participate in an interdisciplinary dialogue focused on the epistemological and methodological questions raised by research involving live, aesthetic and artistic performance. We are interested in scholarship that takes artistic praxis as its object and which acknowledges the essential differences between empirical knowledge and its scholarly articulation.
Over the last seven years the Performance as Research Working Groups assembled at ASTR have involved scholars and artists with diverse investments in relation to performance practice and its discursive formulation. Our approach has always involved a cross-disciplinary analysis of the centrality of embodied experience in both the creation and reception of performance, as well as the challenges (methodological, theoretical, rhetorical) attendant on the process of its articulation. We continue to focus on the experiential not only as a dimension that bridges the concerns of theorists and practitioners, but also because it is a pragmatic tool for investigating the limits and conventions of scholarly discourse.
Co-conveners Kris Salata and Daniel Mroz along with regular participant Bruce Barton are editing a book bringing together the ideas and inquiries that the Working Group has generated since its inception. This year’s session will be organized around the topics that have been raised regularly over the last seven sessions, with the structure of this eventual volume in mind. Proposals need not be limited to these topics, but will likely fall into one of the following areas:
Conveners: Michael Shane Boyle, Harvard University (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Matt Cornish, Yale University (email@example.com)
"Away from Drama?” proposes we take seriously Hans-Thies Lehmann’s argument that postdramatic theater is not unrelated to drama, but rather "the unfolding and blossoming of a potential of disintegration, dismantling and deconstruction” always already within drama (44). What does Lehmann’s theory allow us to say about genealogies of performance, especially the relationships that exist between traditions like the historical avant-gardes, epic theater, and Aristophanic satire and more contemporary work by Robert Wilson, the Wooster Group, and Gob Squad? How does postdramatic theater create meaning by dismantling drama while leaving dramatic structures visible? How can the postdramatic—which includes productions of dramas by canonical figures like Shakespeare, Brecht, and others—help us to understand dramatic forms and their potential for disintegration?
One of our main points of entry into the debates over postdramatic theater will be the role of digital media as a constitutive dramaturgical element for the postdramatic. Following Benjamin Bennett’s argument that postdramatic theater "must be understandable as a response to unprecedented conditions of communication in the age of electronic mass media,” our working session will look to historicize the emergence of the postdramatic against the epochal social transformations of the 1960s and 1970s (200, emphasis in original). Additionally, we will consider what Shannon Jackson describes as the interdisciplinary heritage of postdramatic theater, focusing on how the visual arts and theater inform and shape one another. How do the changed aesthetics of postdramatic theater indicate a transformed social function for the theater more generally?
For this working session, we invite proposals that approach debates over postdramatic theater by investigating the nature of performance that is both "away from drama” and always also in relation to drama, examining one or several examples of works from different genealogies of performance and media. We also encourage proposals that pressure the very usefulness of the postdramatic as a descriptive or critical theory of performance.
Conveners: Susan Brady, Yale University (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Ken Cerniglia, Disney Theatrical Group (email@example.com)
An initiative of the American Society for Theatre Research born at the 2009 Puerto Rico conference, the American Theatre Archive Project (ATAP) supports theatre makers in archiving records of their work for the benefit of artists, scholars, patrons, and the public. ATAP seeks:
ATAP is a grassroots network of professional and student archivists, practitioners, and scholars dedicated to preserving the legacy of the American theatre by developing archival resources for theatre companies. ATAP helps preserve theatre history that has yet to be written.
The working session’s goals are twofold: 1) to introduce new members to ATAP and give them specific tools and resources to extend the project into their areas and institutions, and 2) to give already participating scholars and archivists a forum to formally present their projects, share best practices, and analyze ATAP’s work within various geographical and historical contexts.
Conveners: Jenna Soleo-Shanks, Briar Cliff University (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jacqueline Jenkins, University of Calgary (email@example.com)
In the thousand-year period known as the Middle Ages performance was the dominant mode of cultural communication, serving as a means through which communities articulated their beliefs, celebrated their histories, promoted their power, and often escaped their realities. Despite the ubiquity and importance of performance in medieval cultures, however, only a handful of medieval dramas are regularly staged and those that are produced are commonly presented as curiosities or museum pieces for select, often scholarly, audiences. If medieval performance culture is to be understood as a vital and potent part of theatre history more work must be done to explore the performance potential of such historically distant texts.
In the context of medieval performance history, this working session seeks to investigate the relationship of performance to knowledge, by exploring the role of performance of past texts as an essential critical act in the discipline. Thus, we seek contributions of short scholarly papers from scholars and practitioners who have worked to stage medieval plays, or have used performance explicitly to advance knowledge on particular medieval texts. Part roundtable and part workshop, this session will allow for a rich investigation not only of the issues surrounding contemporary productions of medieval drama, but of the vital importance of continued work to bring these often overlooked theatre pieces to life for contemporary audiences.
Convener: Joshua Abrams, University of Roehampton (J.Abrams@roehampton.ac.uk)
Challenge your individual research through the encounter with the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex!
Any city is a site of encounter, of collision, and daily performance. Rather than our typical mode of scholarship that doesn’t necessarily plant roots each year, moving from ASTR to ASTR (with perhaps ATHE, IFTR, PSi, MLA, CAA, ASA, etc. along the way), this working group will bring Dallas into the picture. The Dallas Fort Worth metroplex advertises itself as simultaneously "ultra-modern and sophisticated” and home to "cowboys and culture.” It boasts eighteen Fortune 500 companies and "the world’s only twice daily cattle drive.” It’s the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the US and DFW claims to be the world’s fourth busiest airport. Yet the true performance of any city is its daily life, the myriad small performances of its residents and visitors.
As (primarily) visitors to the area, ASTR members will typically experience only a few of these performances—for many centered around the downtown hotel area. For this panel, we ask participants to encounter Dallas/Fort Worth and to bring back a "taste” to the session. Participants will be asked to "bring” their research to Dallas, proposing a point of intersection— a community organization, a location, a performance group, etc—that opens up their research differently. Brief position papers will be circulated in advance and should focus on what the metroplex offers to individual research areas. How might the location of Dallas, its histories and present inflect our research? What new possibilities or challenges might focusing explicitly on this city offer?
Through these encounters, participants will be asked to identify a site within the greater Dallas Fort Worth area to which their individual research might bring them and to visit this site in advance of the panel session. From this visit, each panelist is asked to return to the session with a provocation for their research from their site visit as well as a food item or other artefact from the site to share with the group—mapping both the individuality of research as well as its necessary conviviality and the unforeseen, the unexpected performances of research encountering Dallas.
Potential participants are asked to submit a proposal of no more than one page by June 3, 2013, detailing their area of interest and the identification of a potential site of interest to ‘complicate’ their research. This should explicate not only what you hope to gain for your own research from the encounter with Dallas, but crucially what you feel your research will offer to an engagement, as a working group, with the locatedness of Dallas. In this session, we hope to engage a breadth of approaches to performance of/in the city, possibly including, but not limited to: Regional representation, local theatre spaces and practices, museal performance, community-based practices, musical performance, food and performance, corporate performance, performance and mobility, athletic performance. Feel free to identify any sites that intrigue you; for those people who are less familiar with the area, here’s a list of some interesting Dallas locations and organizations that might offer some starting points:
This panel will be late in the conference, allowing participants to engage with the cities during the conference without the need to travel early.
Any questions, email Josh Abrams, J.Abrams@roehampton.ac.uk.
Conveners: Debra Caplan, Harvard (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Sarah Bay-Cheng, University at Buffalo (email@example.com)
This working session will bring together scholars working in diverse sub-fields across theatre and performance studies to discuss how technologically-infused research methodologies and the availability of digital tools shape both our individual scholarly practice and the field at large. Too often at academic conferences, we discuss the products of our research without critically and transparently engaging with one another about our process. This working session challenges a traditional product-oriented model of scholarship by asking participants to share how digital processes and methodologies impact our work.
In response to the program committee’s call for "post-thematic” sessions that bring about new conversations, our session’s focus on digital scholarly practice will bring together scholars working on diverse topics and time periods who might not ordinarily converse about their work at ASTR. This will enable scholars working in any field of theatre and performances studies to come together, share digitally-inspired projects-in-process, and spark a broader discussion about the role of digital tools in our research and in the field at large. Participation in this session is not limited by theme, research subject, or time period; the sole criteria for participation is that projects incorporate a digitally-based tool into the research process.
Conveners: Kathryn Edney, Regis College (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Laura MacDonald, University of Groningen (email@example.com)
When the eponymous Sweet Charity (1966) realises somebody loves her, not only does the scene shift from dialogue into song, but she, self-reflexively, acknowledges the largeness of her emotional response, singing, "Now I’m a brass band,” conjuring an ensemble of dancers, and proceeding to sing and dance in celebration. Such moments in musical theatre are at the heart of the form’s appeal for many spectators (including but not limited to bullied, closeted, or marginalised spectators), allowing them to vicariously live large, and loud, for the duration of the musical, and sometimes beyond. Musical theatre performers, writers, composers, directors, choreographers and designers have thought big and crafted large elements in musical theatre for more than a century. This working session will explore the idea of "largeness” from a range of perspectives, including but not limited to: the work of creative teams, performers, audiences, and critics.
Song and dance have long been recognized as the logical outlet for characters whose emotions grow too large to be expressed or contained by dialogue, but we aim to explore beyond this established function of these two elements to investigate in greater detail how musical theatre expands, and what such growth accomplishes. We therefore welcome submissions considering characters’ big emotions, but also performers’ big emotions (and experiences) as professionals. Indeed the concept of the diva seems to account for the largeness of both the professional and performance experiences. Large formal elements are also worthy of examination, whether they be big dance numbers, big sound, or big sets.
David Sexton recently wrote in The Guardian about being amongst those "who are impervious to musicals,” and suggested those who love the form "just want to be pumped up with emotion by any means” (14 Jan. 2013). This session is therefore also interested in engaging with musicals’ potential to alienate spectators, whether through visual, aural or emotional largeness. Probing musical theatre’s big moments and achievements, we will establish new connections between established approaches to musical theatre scholarship, and further grow the field.
Conveners: Will Daddario, University of Minnesota (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Gabriella Calchi-Novati, Trinity College, Dublin (email@example.com)
The international, interdisciplinary research network known as Performance Philosophy seeks to draw upon and develop the philosophical activity alive within ASTR’s membership to determine the benefits, challenges, theoretical obstacles, and performative potential Performance Philosophy offers to scholars and practitioners in the present moment.
Understood not as a "turn” in the fields of theatre or performance studies but, rather, as a new field in its own right involving researchers based in a wide range of disciplines, Performance Philosophy presents the possibility of thinking theatre and performance anew, against the backdrop of current philosophical debates. Performance philosophers understand those debates to have the ability to thrust theatre and performance events into a new light, while, simultaneously, recognizing that the specific material conditions of theatre and performance events have the ability to invest philosophical concepts with new life. Building on the momentum of recent works such as Martin Puchner’s The Drama of Ideas and Laura Cull’s Theatres of Immanence, this working session requests paper proposals from scholars and practitioners involved in the interplay between performance and philosophy. Specifically, papers might pursue the following avenues:
Please compose 500-word proposals that present an abstract of your paper and a brief description of how the paper relates to your primary area of research. Proposals should include complete contact information and organizational affiliation (if any). Send your proposal (as MS Word attachments) to both conveners by June 3, 2013. After selecting participants who engage with such themes, we will group the papers together by theme and create sub-groups. We will ask members of each sub-group to attend to the interconnection of themes evident in the initial abstracts so as to build connections between the papers. Individuals accepted to the working session will be expected to submit full 10- to 12-page papers no later than October 1, 2013, in order to facilitate pre-conference conversations.
Convener: Yana Meerzon, University of Ottawa (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"Influence, Transposition, Revision: Eastern European Theatre and its International Metamorphoses" will explore the international life and afterlife of the theatrical and dramaturgical innovations originating in Eastern and Central Europe in the past century. Session participants are invited to examine the work of significant directors and choreographers (from Stanislavsky to Fokine), playwrights (from Chekhov to Havel), artists (from Kandinsky to Svoboda), performers (from Chaliapin to Cieslak), and theorists (from Mikhail Bakhtin to Jan Mukařovský), and to investigate how theatrical practices and theories have been internationally transposed. The participants will be asked to think about the legacy of Eastern and Central European theatre practice and theory in historiographical terms, considering what is to be gained by looking back at the heritage and dissemination of these innovations over the past century.
In our collective discussion, we will explore notions of influence, echo, translation, and revision as we analyze how ideas, styles, training systems, plays, and productions move from their original socio-cultural contexts into new ones. Topics of investigation might include, but are not limited to the following:
Conveners: Robin Bernstein, Harvard University (email@example.com) and Kyla Wazana, Pomona College (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This Working Session, which first convened at ASTR in 2012, proposes that the study of performance in everyday life has the potential to revise and reconfigure historical knowledge. Scholars from diverse fields have produced foundational tools by which to think about everyday performance and ritual; we aim to use these and other analytical frames to historicize the past and the present and to theorize the future as it unfolds within both. We invite projects that might address (but are not limited to) theatre, theatrical attendance, paratheatre, music, dance, or mediatized performance; material culture; affect and emotions; performances in workplaces, the street, religious settings, or the home; and large-scale processes such as migration, public/civic engagement, consumption, schooling, parenting, or the management of sickness and health. We aim to support the development of projects that approach and rethink the concept of "everyday life” as a productive category of analysis, that explore the multiple categories that are produced by, lie alongside or even undermine our commonsense understandings of what the "everyday” is, including the quotidian, the normal and/or the normative, the daily or the nightly, the routine and uneventful. We propose the category of "everyday life” as a window of inquiry into the connections between the micro and the macro, the apparently personal or individual and the self-evidently political or collective. Our opening questions include: how does performance in or of the everyday connect to large-scale politics and history? How can we access and understand the expansive stakes in everyday activities that are ordinary, persistent, and repeated? What do we come to know when we attend to the quotidian and ordinary as categories linked to crisis as well as certainty? How might everyday life be a repository for forms of aesthetic production, political engagement, and other "structures of feeling”? Through what writing technologies and critical methodologies do we access, describe and do justice to the everyday? And finally, can the study of everyday life integrate performance studies and the discipline of history?
Convener: Michael Schwartz, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (email@example.com)
From the Industrial Workers of the World cry of "One Big Union” to one of the "big” numbers of the 1955 musical The Pajama Game, "7 ½ Cents,” the stage has sought to capture, with varying degrees of success, the theatricality of union activity and activism. This session will explore the "bigness” of the union vision and the size of the figure of the union activist in the public imagination - from activist heroes to bomb-hurling anarchists, as well as the figures in between. Invited papers will address not only the union activity reflected in the play, but the plays’ positions in union history—that is, what unions were doing at the time the plays were first produced. Also of interest will be public perceptions of the union - who was seeing these plays and how they would have welcomed (or not) "wobblies” and other union workers and representatives. The call for strikes in such disparate shows (from disparate eras) as The Boss (1911), Waiting for Lefty (1935) and Billy Elliot (2005) tell us a great deal about class divisions and workers’ issues; the subversive dramaturgy of workers’ plays - using elements of vaudeville, melodrama, and agitprop - often go hand-in-hand with the subversive messages of unions (we might also ask what, exactly, is being subverted). The uses of catchy songs by unions, e.g., the I.W.W.’s "Little Red Songbook” and the ILGWU’s "Look for the Union Label” provide further performative levels worthy of consideration and study. Finally, invited papers will examine the "look” of the unions and the union workers onstage - the physical bearing of the performers playing the union leaders, union workers, and union activists in terms of their particular "bigness” (or lack of it). The session will closely explore class division and the stage in a scholarly environment.
Convener: Kirsten Pullen, Texas A&M University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dance is always already bound up with sex. Salome deployed dance to seduce a saint; young devadasis danced their sensual devotion in Hindi temples; Romantic era ballerinas revealed scandalous stretches of breeches-clad legs; the rock star Prince urged a ballet dancer to "get off, get off, GET OFF” as she penetrated another dancer’s mouth with her pointe shoe. The inescapable sexuality of the dancing body infuses traditional and popular dance as well. Brides and grooms dance to mark their union; Shakira declaims the romantic truth-telling power of her hips; our parents twisted, shouted and gyrated their pelvises; our students mash theirs together metonymically in a social dance they call "grinding.”
Dance scholarship has historically turned away from questions of sex and desire, preferring to focus on more "legitimate” areas of inquiry. There are good reasons for this aversion: Dance scholarship itself struggles for academic validation, not least because both its scholars and its objects of study are largely female. Historical dancers, like historical actresses, were assumed to be sexually available, assumptions even contemporary dancers struggle to overturn. Dance practitioners evince a similar squeamishness. Some concert dance choreographers attempt to resist the cultural and political encumbrances that cling to notions of sexuality and gender, aiming instead to present images of anodyne androgyny. In extreme cases the body seems almost peripheral to the dance, becoming merely an object for manipulation in abstract geometrical patterns. But the erotic body is difficult to contain, and tends to burst through most of the barricades erected around it.
This working session starts from a "post-” position: we proceed from the presumption that sexuality and dance intertwine. This presumption allows us to circumvent rehearsed debates about the moral value of sexuality in dance and instead ask new questions.
Convener: Victor Emeljanow, University of Newcastle (Victor.Emeljanow@newcastle.edu.au)
Children have meant big business in the theatre since the 19th century. Tracy Davis, Anne Varty, Marah Gubar and others have explored the role of children and its relation to notions of childhood in Victorian Britain. Richard Butsch has pointed to the significance of children as consumers during the development of cinema in the early 20th century and beyond in America. There have been studies of ‘infant phenomena’ but globally the study of children in the theatre both from historical and contemporary perspectives is under-researched. This session, an extension of the very successful one held at the 2011 ASTR conference in Montreal, proposes to continue to address some of these lacunae.
It could be argued that children have been and continue to be a vital constituent of the theatrical marketplace and therefore central to any discussion of the economies of theatre: they have been exploited as performers and wooed energetically as consumers. Images of children in performance have circulated and been used in the advertising industry since the 19th century to promote shows, to reinforce cultural values and to demonstrate that play can indeed lead to pay. More recently, performance by and for children has intersected with issues regarding personal and social wellbeing. Suggested questions which essays might address include:
Conveners: Valleri Hohman, University of Illinois (email@example.com) and Jen Schlueter, Ohio State University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This Working Session, sponsored by the New Paradigms in Graduate Education Committee, focuses on reconsidering applications of the doctoral degree in Theatre and Performance Studies. While traditional scholarship and academic positions may be one aim of students earning doctoral degrees in theatre and performance studies, graduates are increasingly applying their skills and knowledge outside academia. This roundtable will feature 5-6 panelists who are working in exciting arenas beyond academe in conversation with a university administrator who helps students navigate the diverse marketplace. The participants will discuss the various strategies they have used to find and/or make appealing opportunities, build networks, and apply for positions in government, arts administration, and industry. The roundtable will also point to the ways that our colleagues are still teaching, researching, writing, and creative problem-solving in their new careers. In their recent book, So What are You Going to Do With That? Finding Careers Outside Academia, authors Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius use the term "post-academic” to refer to jobs and careers outside of the traditional scope of academia. They write about the continuity, rather than a rupture, that exists between academic work and careers outside of academia. In keeping with the post-thematic conference, this roundtable hopes to encourage expansive thinking about our work and its potential impact beyond traditional boundaries of "academic” and "non-academic.”
Invited Panelists are:
Conveners: Mary Karen Dahl, Florida State University (email@example.com) and Jeff Paden, Florida State University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Trauma is a term that has a precise meaning as a pathology for which there is a medical course of treatment, with notions of what constitutes "healing." Frequently, however, theatre and performance studies deploy trauma as a metaphor, divorced from the physical/mental pain of actual trauma, which potentially has had the effect of weakening the concept. Medically, trauma describes a post-phenomenon; it is not the damaging event but the post-traumatic moment—the reliving of the event—that defines trauma. Inspired by the possibilities of applying the prefix post to the word trauma, we want to reflect on post as a synonym for past, for to become post something, in many ways we must move past it. Is it useful to consider trauma as a collective phenomenon? Can we move past trauma collectively (in healing)? Is a complete healing, particularly at a collective level, possible? When is it too soon to deem a community post/past trauma?
Paying particular attention to the location of ASTR 2013 and the relationship between Dallas and the national trauma of Kennedy’s assassination, we invite contributions on objects of study including museums, memorials, performance events and texts (rituals, celebrations, plays) that seek to establish or intercede in commemorative activities.
Conveners: Chelsea Phillips, Ohio State University (email@example.com), Alicia Beth Corts, University of Georgia (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Judith Griselda Caballero, Millsaps College (email@example.com)
Motherhood and childbirth have been constructed as symbols of faith, sites of suspicion, protectors of social morality, and the wages of original sin. Mother Earth, the Virgin Mother, and evil stepmothers are just some of the pillars society has fashioned around the concept of motherhood. Motherhood has been gendered female to the extent that motherhood and womanhood are often seen to be mutually completing, with pregnancy serving as a visual marker of the liminal space that turns woman into mother. In contrast, male actors have frequently embodied theatrical performances of motherhood, and the performativity of motherhood and pregnancy have been explored in, for example, the entremés Juan Rana Mujer, in which Juan is tricked into believing he is a woman and begins to fear labor pains. In today’s world of technology, disembodied performances of motherhood and pregnancy create slipperiness between the predestined gendered performances, opening both to new, transgressive iterations.
While maternal performances form an integral part of social discourse, and often an explicit part of theatrical performance, they are rarely subject to scholarly study. Despite an ongoing scholarly interest in performances of gender, sexuality, and embodiment, maternity has largely slipped from focus in the last decades. In the interest of examining these performances as constructed and constructing identity in theatrical and social performances, participants in this session will re-focus on the performance of motherhood and maternity and its role in historical and contemporary life. In the spirit of the post-thematic conference, we will seek papers that approach this topic from a variety of disciplines, cultures, and eras, allowing us to form connections from within the paper group instead of imposing structure from without. We are particularly interested in how maternity and pregnancy conflict with fictional or virtual characters, performance traditions, and cross-gendered portrayals in historical and global performance.
Conveners: Sam O’Connell, Worcester State University (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Ann Folino White, Michigan State University (email@example.com)
There is a long relationship between the theatrical event and newspapers as the media through which theatre is publicized, publically critiqued, and archived for history. As print publications have died off during the past decade, blogs, web-based versions of print forms, and cable news channels have quickly supplied the public with a massive selection of news sources. With this transition, though, news itself has changed: on-line news is searched by topic - rather than laid out before a reader - virtually, obscuring stories that were once printed side-by-side other news items. The change of news venue/media has been accompanied by a burgeoning binary of "objective” journalism against "politicized” rhetoric of contemporary news, a binary that tends to infuse print publications of the past with the tenor of impartiality while accusing televisual and electronic/internet media of bias. Broadly speaking, this working session aims to investigate the role of the post-truth historian and theatre-as-history as it relates to theatre historiography, pedagogy, and playwriting.
The basis for this working group comes out of a conversation that began in the ASTR 2012 Working Session "Hear/Say: Oral and Aural Histories of Theatre and Performance.” Building on the thematic of ‘truth’ in oral and aural theatre histories, this working session contextualizes the rhetoric of contemporary news and our post-truth era in order to explore the changing relationships between theatre historiography and the theatre historian, theatre as history, and performance in the media. In considering theatre as history, we find ourselves as historians walking a fine line concerning truth. As such, we are necessarily interested in such questions as:
We invite papers that address these questions as well as those that investigate the changing role of media in articulating the "truth” of theatre history. Papers can explore the intersection of notions of truth, media & theatre history/historiography from any angle. Papers might examine how theatre history is being written and taught post-newspaper/print; how contemporary playwrights script new-style news media; the interdependence of theatre and news outlets/forms in different periods; what "news” is required to write the theatre history of the present moment.