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ASTR 2021 Annual Conference
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October 28 - October 31, 2021: San Diego, CA

Repetition repeats itself. Theories of repetition inform theatre history across periods, methodologies, theoretical frameworks, and approaches to examining theatre history and historical practices. From descriptions of repetition-with-a-difference and performative iteration to twice-behaved behavior and staged revivals, repetition has become an axiomatic starting point for understanding the complex temporality of theatre—sometimes at the expense of other ways of imagining performance in time and as time. Among other entities repetition might be (an ontological allegory, a rhetorical operation, a signifying chain, a rhythmic pulse, a well of influence, a technology of discipline, a comfort, a nightmare), it is a temporal mode that marks a series or sequence. It is the interplay between linear time—existing on a chronological line where things recur again after they have previously occurred—and cyclical time—since if tomorrow is a repetition of yesterday, then yesterday is already tomorrow and tomorrow yesterday. In toggling between line and cycle, repetition gives us seriality, division, memory, and difference. But there are other ways to contemplate and inhabit difference than via repetition.

While appreciating the inestimable value that theories of repetition have contributed to the study of theatre and performance, the conference seeks to center other time signatures that may be related to, but diverge from, repetition. Repetition is but one way that past/present/future can be configured in relation to each other, but it is not the only one. What other temporal arrangements organize theatre and performance? How else does theatre and performance temporalize the relationships between identity and difference, between chronos and kairos, between the past and the present? Are there other ways of understanding difference, power, and resistance that are not necessarily shaped by repetition? What are the limits of repetition for comprehending the historicity and phenomenology of theatre? How do ecstatic temporalities alter the linear and cyclical patterns of repetition? How does performance interrupt repetition, rather than rely on it, for its effects? How have new media technologies changed how we think of repetition and performance? What other lexicons might we develop to understand the relationship of performance to time and history?

This conference theme developed out of the first José Esteban Muñoz Targeted Working Group, a multiyear ASTR initiative to increase the diversity of the organization and the research produced under its auspices. The development of the Muñoz Working Groups provides an opportunity for the organization to take stock of the state of the field and the institution of ASTR, shaping both moving forward. Our conference aims to extend the conversations originating from the Muñoz Working Groups to the organization as a whole. Of all the ideas that organize the field’s critical protocols, repetition is almost certainly the most ubiquitous. In the spirit of the Muñoz initiative, we invite submissions that explore how repetition—of performances, institutions, or practices—reproduces institutional exclusion and segregates knowledge production. Proposals that bring minoritarian knowledge and global perspectives to bear on theatre studies and performance studies are especially welcome.

2021 Conference Program Chairs

Soyica Diggs Colbert, Georgetown University
Douglas A. Jones, Jr., Rutgers University
Shane Vogel, Indiana University

2021 Conference Program Committee

Joshua Chambers-Letson (Northwestern University)
Julia Fawcett (UC-Berkeley)
Ellen MacKay (University of Chicago)
Patrick Maley (Centenary College)
Jade Power-Sotomayor (University of California San Diego)
Alexis Riley (University of Texas, Austin)
Rachel Smiley (AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts)
Catherine Young (Princeton Writing Program)
Jimmy A. Noriega (College of Wooster), ex officio

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