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Philosophy of Performance: Beyond the Continental/Analytic Divide

Aesthetics Research Centre, University of Kent, 24 May 2019

The British Society for Aesthetics conference, Philosophy of Performance: Beyond the Continental/Analytic Divide, took place on Friday 24 May 2019 at the University of Kent in Canterbury. It was generously supported by the British Society of Aesthetics, with additional support from the Aesthetics Research Centre at the University of Kent and the Centre for Performance Philosophy at the University of Surrey.  The central aim was to bring together scholars working within analytic philosophy of theatre with scholars working on the more continental-influenced field of Performance Philosophy. We were pleased to find that the conference also drew together a previously somewhat hidden constituency of performance scholars who in different ways were already working across analytic and continental traditions as ordinarily conceived.

The conference was opened by a keynote discussion between Dr Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca (Surrey), founding convenor of the Performance Philosophy organisation, and Dr Tom Stern (UCL) author of Philosophy and Theatre: An Introduction. This discussion outlined how both viewed their work as connecting with the continental/analytic divide, how they viewed the relationship between performance and philosophy, and the question of whether performance can be understood as doing philosophy. After lunch, a panel discussion between Dr Dieter Declercq (Kent) and Athanassia Williamson (NYU) looked at connections between satire and cynicism, and was followed by another panel dialogue between Dr Anna Petronella Foultier (Stockholm) and Dr Anthony Gritten (Royal Academy of Music). This looked at examples of dance and music to tease out connections between creativity and decision-making. The closing keynote was given by Dr Aili Bresnahan (Dayton), which made the case for “multi-methodological competency” (MMC) in philosophy of theatre, arguing that it is both desirable for its own sake, and crucial in order for philosophy of theatre to grow and thrive.

Dr Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca (Surrey)