Methods and Materiality in Theatre and Performance Studies

May 10, 2018
Ph.D. Program in Theatre
The Graduate Center, The City University of New York

The multiple potential meanings of “object” within theatre and performance studies point to questions about the relationship between knowledge and materiality. With this conference, we issue a challenge to the common understanding of scholarly work as focused on an “object of study.” We seek to destabilize the terms “object” and “study” to explore how the ways in which we conceive of objects and materiality might influence the framework of our discipline. Are we, as scholars, engaging in acts of objectification? How do the objects also act upon us?

Through working sessions with Katherine Behar (Baruch, CUNY), Maaike Bleeker (Utrecht), Rebecca Schneider (Brown), and Soyoung Yoon (New School), we invite participants to reflect on the assumptions, connections, slippages, tensions, and politics implicit in both senses of the “object”—as thing and as focus of study—and to consider the implications of new materialist, post-human, and object-oriented thought within and on the field of theatre and performance studies itself. Does our relationship to performance change when the nonhuman performs? How might it lead us to productively re-think our field and reflexively transform our study practice? What methods and ideas might help us to complicate and explore the relationship between objects and knowledge in theatre and performance studies? If the conception of the object shifts, what can be known?

Emerging from a radical reconsideration of objects, both in performance and as the focus of research, we will interrogate the following concerns:

  • Contemporary study of objects, including notions of network, new materiality, posthuman, post-anthropocene, ecology, OOO, and OOF.
  • Inter- and anti-disciplinary methodologies of research.
  • New materialist and object-oriented thought in relation to theatrical form and practice.
  • New dramaturgies and objects in theatre and performance.
  • Materiality and/or production of affect in performance and in research.
  • The political and ethical stakes and dramaturgies in the subject/object relationship; the human being as object of study.
  • (De)colonial and indigenous epistemologies in performance and in its study: past, present and future.
  • Temporalities and spatialities of objects.
  • Virtualization and de-materialization of the object.
  • Performing as object; performance in the museum.
  • The object-status and knowledge-status of an archive.
  • Historiographies of objects of study.

The day-long conference will culminate in a public discussion among the facilitating faculty and a performance by Larissa Velez-Jackson (LVJ Performance Co.) at Martin E. Segal Theatre, The Graduate Center, CUNY. The full program of events will be available soon.

This event will take place thanks to the generous support OF THE Sidney E. Cohn Chair Distinguished Professor Marvin Carlson, Vera Mowry Roberts Chair Distinguished Professor David Savran, Lucille Lortel Chair Professor Jean Graham-Jones, The Ph.D. Program in Theatre, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, Center for the Humanities, and the Doctoral Students’ Council.