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ASTR/TLA 2014 Call for Proposals
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ASTR/TLA 2014 Conference Call for Proposals
November 20-23, 2014

Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, Baltimore MD

Conference Program Chair:

Margaret Werry,
Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Theatre Arts and Dance
University of Minnesota

Call for Proposals

What performs?

What might our discipline gain from decentering the human as theatre’s actor, author, and agent? What else performs? How does placing non-humans center stage expand our historiographic imagination, putting new pressure on familiar methods, and breathing new life into objects/subjects long dismissed as the inert material from which performance, and performance history, is fashioned? What new understandings of performance emerge from this effort? And how might they enrich discourse in other disciplines where "performance” is an oft-cited but little understood concept?

Contributors could consider:

  • performance’s human proxies and prosthetics, such as puppets or avatars
  • spatial performance: theatres, sites, landscapes, environments, and architecture as actors
  • the performative and historical agency of things – objects, props, or other forms of material
  • animals and other non-human theatrical presences that challenge our understanding of rights, cognition, affect, and empathy in theatre
  • super- and supra-natural actors, on or beyond the stage
  • para-theatrical genres in which the "stars” are things, places or other non-human entities (museums, heritage sites, medical demonstrations, for instance)
  • theatre history as a site for analyzing the performance of systemic entities: institutions, companies, networks, economies, or ecologies, even everyday life itself
  • the performance of speech, sound, silence, and language, their travels, actions, and effects
  • the autonomous lives of texts, documents as historical actors, digital animacies, or the agency and efficacy of ideas themselves
  • theatrical sensations and sensoria, memory, embodiment, or affect, considered as material, but not necessarily or exclusively human attributes
  • performance traditions and phenomena rooted in alternative modernities that don’t rest on humanist foundations

This conference theme invites theatre scholars to entertain post-human perspectives on an art form and institution that has historically been understood as the crucible of humanism. It asks participants to prioritize methodological experimentation, and to actively engage with emerging interdisciplinary fields of theory, from new materialism to political ecology, network theory to affect studies. Theorists in these fields confront the inadequacy of liberal humanism in engaging urgently contemporary realities such as global techno-capitalism or climate catastrophe. Yet they have also stood accused of high-handed theoretical idealism, of a lack of attention to geographical, historical, or economic specificities, and of indifference to the hard-won gains (especially for minorities) of humanist critiques centered on identity, rights, and representation. If theatre is a machine of political imagination, can it help us imagine a truly just post-human politics?

Plenary Presentations: We invite proposals for individual plenary papers and/or presentations. These presentations are "plenary” in the sense that they address the entire conference and nothing runs concurrently with them. Proposals should take the form of an abstract (max. 250 words) that includes name, affiliation, mailing and email addresses. Full-length papers will not be accepted. Individual presentations should not exceed 20 minutes. Those whose proposals are not selected for plenary presentations will have the opportunity to apply to a second call for participants in accepted working sessions. Submit your plenary paper or presentation proposal by clicking on this link.

Working Sessions: We invite proposals for working sessions. This category includes roundtables, seminars, research groups, reading groups, forums, and workshops. "Working sessions” is a general category that allows the session leader(s) to convene small groups around a proposed area of inquiry or practice, and to structure a method and format that best suits the goals of the group. Proposals should include a rationale for the subject of the session and for its format. Once the program committee has made its selection of working sessions, each session convener will be invited to issue a specialized call for participants for that session; this second round of calls for participants in working sessions will be posted on the ASTR and TLA websites, with a late May deadline for submission. Submit your working session proposal by clicking on this link.

All submissions must be received by February 1, 2014.

Inquiries are welcome. Please contact Margaret Werry address above with program questions, or Nancy Erickson with questions about conference logistics.

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