Intersections 2018


Intersections 2018

UNMENTIONABLES: ‘no-go’ areas in performance practices and research.

Call for Papers:

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’s annual Intersections Conference will be held on Thursday 18th and Friday 19th January 2018.  Led by the Research Degrees community at Central, Intersections seeks to engage with current theoretical and conceptual discourses in performance research, not only to highlight the diverse research interests at Central, but also to host a range of national and international scholars from a variety of backgrounds and institutions, addressing points of intersection between disciplines, fields and modes of research. Panels are composed of researchers whose papers may potentially speak to each other not within the confines of perceived fields of performance (as defined by genres of performance, for example), but through concepts, concerns and issues which may be common to a wide range of researchers in performance, including crossing boundaries between practice-as-research and so-called ‘conventional’ research.

The postgraduate community at Central invites proposals for papers, panels, provocations and performative lectures. The theme of this year’s conference is:  UNMENTIONABLES: ‘no-go’ areas in performance practices and research.

We’ve seen it all – the scandalous, the sacrilegious and the outrageous. In some arenas of art and performance it seems that there are no more boundaries to cross, no thresholds to raise. Artists have performed sexual acts, bled and even killed in the making of their work. Theorists have shattered totems and broken taboos. We are unshockable.

Or are we? Do we, however tacitly, subject ourselves and others to different forms of censorship? Do we police language? Do we confine ourselves to echo chambers and suffocate the free exchange of ideas? Even artists, perhaps especially them, who had previously been agitators and provocateurs often find themselves in the position of a shocked audience, forced to respond to provocative gestures made by politicians, celebrities and other public figures. When global leaders can scandalize the world with a tweet, what role does art play in challenging norms and frontiers?

Intersections 2018 peeks at the unmentionables of performance practices and research. Its aim is to seek out the contours, the edges and the boundaries we encounter, be they self-imposed, externally enforced, or simply the limits of our own ability to understand and to articulate our experience. Where do artists and theorists still come up against blockades? Where have the lines been drawn in our disciplines and where do we draw the line?

Submitted abstracts can address, but are not limited to, such questions as:

  • What are the ‘no-go’ areas of your research? What are the epistemological limits of your methodology? What assumptions and presuppositions cannot be questioned?
  • How does censorship or self-censorship impact your research? Are there terms that you consciously omit or that you think ought to be omitted? Are there, on the other hand, terms you feel obligated to use, or discourses to which you feel you must pay tribute?
  • What is at stake in being the one to say what is deemed to be unsayable? What do we stand to lose or gain by going there?
  • What are the politics of the unmentionable in performance? When and how have the lines and boundaries been drawn? How are they enforced, and by whom? What is the role of silence or the unmarked in performance or in research?
  • Are some performances best kept secret? Are there knowledges that can only be practiced or transmitted anonymously or in secret? How does secrecy shape a skill that is taught or a practice that is performed?
  • What are the codes and hallmarks of the performance of shock? How do artists, celebrities or politicians perform transgressions of acceptable behaviour and speech and how are shock and moral indignation being performed?
  • How does the unmentionable change from one context to the next? What happens to performances, acts or utterances that exist in some places with some people, but are otherwise unsayable and unthinkable?
  • How does our use of posts, tweets and memes shift the perimeters of private conversation and public discourse? Does the indelible memory of the internet change what we allow ourselves to do and say?

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is Monday 16th October 2017, by midnight.  In order to submit your proposal, please visit our website,

Presentations will be allocated 20 minutes of speaking time and 10 minutes of questions.  All presenters will have access to PowerPoint, and any further technical requirements should be specified in the candidate’s abstract.

We also accept proposals for whole panels.  In order to submit your proposed panels, please submit your abstracts individually, and then send us an email with the titles of participating papers, and a ~300-word panel rationale.

If you have any questions regarding Intersections, please contact us at

For more information about Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, please visit