Theatre and Performance vs the ‘Crisis in the Humanities


“Theatre and Performance vs the ‘Crisis in the Humanities’:

Creative Pedagogies, Neoliberal Realities”

Call for Participants, CATR 2018, Kingston, ON (29 May – 1 June)

This roundtable – one of several I’m curating over the course of this year, in different university and national contexts – seeks to collect and generate dialogues about how theatre and performance may best be deployed as a “mobile critical paradigm” (Gallagher and Freeman 9) in the neoliberal university.

“The discourse of crisis in the humanities persists,” as Kathleen Gallagher and Barry Freeman write in their new collection, In Defence of Theatre (5); scholars, artists, and educators in theatre and performance across (and beyond) the Anglosphere feel this pressure especially acutely as a result of the expendability with which fine arts programs are often regarded as part of the logic of austerity. The emergent challenge is then twofold: to face “the steamroller” (Patrick Finn’s term) of government-mandated “big data” on our own terms, and in the process to redefine the terms by which that data – and the university administrators and government officials it serves – recognize us and our continued worth.

Participants who are students, instructors, researchers, community partners, and administrators are very welcome to apply. Together, we will aim to assemble a variety of existing “best practices” that can assist all of us in making local change at our home institutions, while taken collectively can represent qualitative evidence of our successful, ongoing adaptation to existing institutional realities. We will also consider the obstacles we face in making these kinds of changes, and the challenges ahead.

In advance of the conference participants will be asked to share a brief (roughly 1000-word) case study based on their own experience, as well as a prompt or question arising from it. Topics of investigation illuminated by your case studies may include:


  • What initiatives are already underway to ready schools and departments of theatre and performance for survival within the neoliberal university?
  • How are these initiatives received by stakeholders (students, teachers, artists, administrators, community partners) both inside and outside of institutional contexts?
  • How essential is interdisciplinary collaboration to the survival of theatre and performance labour in the neoliberal university? What models exist for such (successful) collaboration?
  • How essential is community collaboration to the survival of theatre and performance labour in the neoliberal university? What models exist for such (successful) collaboration?
  • Within the initiatives and collaborations thus detailed, what room exists for creative, performance-driven critique of neoliberal structures? How is that room made? When and how does making such space fall short of goals?


Please send a 150-word description of your proposed case study, as well as a 50-word biography, to Kim Solga ( no later than 15 December 2017. Please remember that participants will need to become members of CATR before the conference.