Call for Proposals: On Dialectics

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Call for Proposals: Performance Research Vol. 21, No. 3 (June 2016)

‘On Dialectics’

Proposal Deadline: 24 July 2015

Edited by Eleanor Massie (Queen Mary University of London) & Philip Watkinson (Queen Mary University of London)

This issue of Performance Research will provide a platform for reflections on an underexplored area of scholarship, by animating the interrelations between dialectics and performance. ‘On Dialectics’ asks how a theory of flux, change and becoming might be particularly vital to the study of the contemporary performance industry in an era of increased global socio-economic instability? When thinking of alternatives to neoliberalism in the sphere of cultural production, why might scholars and practitioners recuperate a praxis that places fracture and antagonism at its very heart? How might the playful and dialogic engagement that dialectics promotes speak to the creation, process and experience of contemporary cultural activity? Is performance inherently dialectical, or dialectics inherently performative?

A key starting point for the issue is the tendency in theatre and performance studies to look across disciplines and utilise scholars from fields such as philosophy, geography and political theory whose working methods are intrinsically dialectical (e.g. Karl Marx, Judith Butler, David Harvey, Henri Lefebvre, C.L.R. James). As fruitful as this turn can be, there is a danger of not fully engaging with the possibilities and implications of dialectical methodologies. The materialist, politico-ontological, phenomenological and cultural complexities that come with the use of dialectical frameworks should not be overlooked in any field, but especially in theatre and performance studies where such critical concerns are often at the heart of scholarly enterprises and the performance practices they address. Scholars who do engage with dialectics and performance directly (Eric Lott, 1993; Alan Read, 1993; Jen Harvie, 2005; David Barnett, 2013; Peter Boenisch, 2015) have taken steps towards bringing dialectics into the field, but there is still more work to be done.

Approaches to dialectics in this issue might locate dialectical processes or patterns in their object of study, as a feature or quality of performance; they might utilise dialectics as a method in their writing, thinking, and analysis; they might also be records of performance practice whose working method is self-reflexively dialectical. This issue is open to interdisciplinary approaches to performance and work which responds to recent writing on dialectics in fields other than theatre and performance studies (e.g. Bertell Ollman and Tony Smith, 2008; David Harvey, 2009; Fredric Jameson, 2009, 2010; Ayon Maharaj, 2014; Slavoj Žižek, 2012, 2014). More broadly, ‘On Dialectics’ seeks to put some oft-discussed binaries in theatre and performance studies (such as real/imaginary, representation/presentation, material/immaterial, local/global) through their conceptual and practical paces. Rather than simply designating such dualisms as examples of a dialectic, we seek contributions that open up perspectives where processes, flux, relations, and change are emphasised, unsettling fixed elements, formal structures, and organized systems. In this issue contributors will become the performers in what Ollman has called ‘the dance of the dialectic’ (2003).

Format:

‘On Dialectics’ invites artists, practitioners and theorists to submit proposals for critical articles (between 2,500 and 6,500 words), documents, or artist’s pages, which examine dialectics in/as/of performance. Interdisciplinary approaches that use performance as their lens to explore dialectics are also welcome. In light of the issue’s theme, contributors have the option of submitting a "dual proposal". A "dual proposal" would be two separate papers that speak directly to each other, either by writing on the same case study from two different angles, or by openly creating a methodological or theoretical polemic between them.

The editors invite proposals that speak to, but need not be limited to, the following areas:

  • Methodologies: mobilising dialectics as a tool for performance analysis
  • Dialectical readings of identity and difference
  • Performing history, constructing narratives, rewriting genealogies
  • Brechtian theory and performance
  • Process and emergence: rehearsal methods, work-in-progress, scratch​
  • Dialectics as performance philosophy
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Place, space and location
  • Pedagogy and learning: training, growth, ignorance
  • Dialectics and politics in performance
  • Ephemerality, flux and liveness
  • Possible worlds: utopias, fictions, temporalities
  • Spectatorship and reception
  • Limits to a dialectical approach: methodological, political, conceptual

‘On Dialectics’ responds to and seeks to expand on themes arising from Performing Dialectics, a recent conference hosted at Queen Mary University of London, 29 – 30 January 2015 (https://performingdialectics.wordpress.com/).

Issue contacts

All proposals, submissions and general enquiries should be sent direct to the Journal at: info

Issue-related enquiries should be directed to the issue editors: Philip Watkinson (p.m.watkinson) and Eleanor Massie (e.massie).

Schedule:

  • Proposals: 24 July 2015
  • First drafts: November 2015
  • Publication date: June 2016

General Guidelines for Submissions:
• Before submitting a proposal we encourage you to visit our website (http://www.performance-research.org/) and familiarize yourself with the journal.
•Proposals will be accepted by e-mail (MS-Word or RTF). Proposals should not exceed one A4 side (two A4 sides in the case of dual proposals).
•Please include your surname in the file name of the document you send.
•If you intend to send images electronically, please contact the Journal first to arrange prior agreement.
•Submission of a proposal will be taken to imply that it presents original, unpublished work not under consideration for publication elsewhere.
•If your proposal is accepted, you will be invited to submit an article in first draft by the deadline indicated above. On the final acceptance of a completed article you will be asked to sign an author agreement in order for your work to be published in Performance Research.

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