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Performance Philosophy Working Session at the American Society of Theatre Research conference

posted in: Call for papers, Event

November 20-23, 2014
Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, Baltimore MD

Convened by Will Daddario, Illinois State University (w.daddario@gmail.com) and
Ioana Jucan, Brown University (ioana_jucan@brown.edu)

Building on last year’s ASTR session, the international, interdisciplinary research network known as Performance Philosophy seeks to continue activating the philosophical research undertaken by ASTR’s membership. This year, in step with the conference theme “What Performs?” the Performance Philosophy Working Session will explore the domains of non-, more-, and other-than-human thought.

Three streams of philosophical discourse provoke this consideration: the work of speculative realism and object-oriented ontology (Meillassoux, Harman, Morton, Garcia etc.), the work on non-representational theory and actor network theory coming out of the social sciences (Thrift, Law, Moll, Latour, etc.), and the work undertaken at the crossroads of animal studies and post-humanist studies (Orozco, Chaudhuri, Parker Starbuck, Cull, Kirkkopelto, etc.). In each of these discourses, the locus of thought sits within the non-human realm and provokes scholars to develop various methodological strategies to grapple with the obvious paradox that arises from trying to harness the power of the human subject to think through, from, and about the non-, more-, or other-than-human. The ostensible benefits of such effort include a renewed attention to the complexity of material existence, a dynamized historical attunement to the multiple conditions that make human activity possible, and the promise of reinvigorating dialectical thought that takes seriously the notion that, pace Benjamin, the world is ordered within each object.

Where does contemporary theatre and performance research intervene in these philosophical discourses? How are theatre scholars mobilizing the theories that come from these neighbouring disciplines? Faced with the oft-untroubled assumption that theatre constitutes a distinctly human practice, what happens to theatre scholarship when human agency ceases to act as the “subject” of focus and gives way to the performances of animals, space, environments, objects, and things? Similarly, by taking seriously the claim that Performance Philosophy proceeds to think without knowing what precisely thinking may be, might a focus on the dimension of non-, more, and other-than-human performance lead to renewed understanding of the practice of thinking?

This working session seeks proposals that address these questions and/or develop other questions along the same lines. Please compose 500-word abstracts of your paper and a brief description of how the paper relates to your primary area of research. Proposals should include those materials as well as complete contact information and organizational affiliation (if any). Send your proposal (as MS Word attachment) to Will Daddario (w.daddario@gmail.com) and Ioana Jucan (ioana_jucan@brown.edu) by June 1, 2014. After selecting participants, papers will be grouped together by theme and sorted into sub-groups. Members of each sub-group will attend to the interconnection of thought evident in the initial abstracts so as to build connections between the papers. Individuals accepted to the working session must submit full 10-12-page papers (double-spaced) no later than October 1, 2014, in order to facilitate pre-conference conversations.