Objects of Study: Methods and Materiality in Theatre and Performance Studies

By

Objects of Study: Methods and Materiality in Theatre and Performance Studies

May 10, 2018
The Graduate Center, CUNY

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?
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?
PAPER THEMES:
During this day-long, student-run conference, we intend to rethink the core ideas and practices of
our field by fostering a community of emerging scholars inside and outside theatre and
performance studies. To that end, we are calling for papers that consider objects and materiality
in performance and/or papers that issue disciplinary challenges to the notion of the object of study.
We are seeking papers that respond in diverse ways to the questions emerging from a radical
reconsideration of objects—both in performance and as the focus of research. Themes and
interests can relate—but are not limited—to 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.
CONFERENCE FORMAT:
We will host experimental working groups in which papers will be circulated among participants to
be read in advance, rather than presented, with the intention of facilitating a reciprocal, synchronic
and collective academic practice. We hope to exploit the freedom of our position as students and
to create an environment in which participants feel moved to experiment and push the boundaries
of their scholarly engagements.
HOW TO SUBMIT:
We invite emerging scholars, independent researchers, and artists to submit a brief bio and 250-
word abstract by January 15, 2018 to dtsaconf@gmail.com. Participants will be notified in late
February 2018. https://dtsaconf.commons.gc.cuny.edu/