CFP: Performing Literatures (UK) (1/8/07; 6/29/07-7/1/07)

full name / name of organization: 
Stephen Bottoms
contact email: 
S.J.Bottoms@leeds.ac.uk

CALL FOR PAPERS

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Performing Literatures

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29 June - 1 July 2007

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What are the current relationships and faultlines between text and
performance, in the study and practice of theatre and the theatrical?

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The University of Leeds's new Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in
Theatre and Theatricalities (CIRTT) invites paper and panel proposals
for its first international conference.

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The study of theatre, drama and performance is pursued in universities
today in a dizzying variety of institutional and departmental contexts -
not just in dedicated theatre departments, but in English departments,
in other modern language departments, in history, sociology and beyond.
Yet there remains, perhaps, a "primary divide" in theatrically-oriented
studies - the divide between those who address performance through a
focus on the language and literatures on which it is so often based, and
those who see the performance event itself as their key concern, and
text as simply supportive of it.=20

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In the university context, most drama and theatre departments emerged
historically from moments in which performance-oriented scholars broke
away from their "parent" literature departments. Arguably, though, that
separation is still regularly being re-performed: many theatre and
performance people continue to insist that they are "post-dramatic" or
even "anti-textual". Yet the literary text has never gone away-and
indeed, many "non-text-based" performance practitioners have found
themselves increasingly drawn back to the creation or appropriation of
texts as the basis for new theatre. Equally, there is increasing
recognition of the fact that, given their ephemerality, many
performances only become available to a wider public through their
mediation as literature, whether in artists' documentation or in
critical and historical appraisals.

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Meanwhile, within literary studies, scholars have maintained important
interests in performance which have not always been understood or
appreciated by theatre people. For example, analyses of poetry have
continued to explore the pressure given to written language by oral
performance. From another perspective entirely, the
theatrical-theoretical language of "performativity" has radically
altered understandings of the ways in which texts do things with words,
and enact themselves through language and context. And a concern with
representations of the body - the core element of most live performance
activity - has been a recurrent concern in literary analysis.=20

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These are just some of the issues that we hope Performing Literatures
will begin to explore through dialogue between scholars and artists from
varying backgrounds. At this stage, we envisage five potentially
interlinking strands to the conference proceedings, as follows (in no
particular order):

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1. Institutional: examining the disciplinary histories and faultlines
marking the current relationships between the theatre/performance
studies and literary studies. How did we get to where we are today? What
works about where we are today? What habits or assumptions might
productively be challenged or overturned?

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2. Professional: within the theatre industry itself, the relationship
between literary text and theatrical performance remains as conflicted
as ever. What "authority" or "primacy" does the playwright's text have
in relation to the production process? Ongoing debates over the
contested roles of the dramaturg and literary manager continue to
provide a telling measure of unresolved tensions and questions.

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3. Theoretical: examining the so-called "theatrical turn" in
literary-theoretical discourses over the last few decades. What impact
have these debates had on actual performance practice, and conversely,
what might practical, theatrical research contribute to theoretical
understandings?

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4. Historical: in what ways can the study of literary
and performance practices of the past - their relationships and
distinctions - shed light on current circumstances? How does "the
literature of performance"-the body of texts in which disappeared
performances are historicised and evaluated-affect our understanding of
what is possible now?

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5. Intercultural: similarly, in what ways can an
understanding of contrasting practices and traditions in non-Anglophone
cultures shed light on debates that often become hung up on peculiarly
English semantic debates around distinctions between theatre, literature
and performance?=20

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Speakers are expected to include: Shannon Jackson (University of
California at Berkeley), Maria Delgado (Queen Mary, University of
London), Kate Newey (University of Birmingham), Alan Read (King's
College, London), Dan Rebellato (Royal Holloway, University of London),
Michael Cordner (University of York), Susan Castillo (King's College,
London) and others.

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Proposals for papers, panels and other presentations should be submitted
no later than Monday 8th January 2007 to:

                                                 Professor Stephen
Bottoms

                                                 Workshop Theatre

                                                 School of English

                                                 University of Leeds,=20

                                                 Leeds, UK

                                                 LS2 9JT

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                                                 Email:
s.j.bottoms_at_leeds.ac.uk=20

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Performing Literatures will be the first major conference event
co-ordinated by the new Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Theatre
and Theatricalities.=20

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CIRTT is an interdepartmental initiative sponsored by the Leeds
Humanities Research Institute (LHRI) and based at the Workshop Theatre,
in the School of English. It exists to foster links and debates among
scholars and artists working across a range of disciplines, who share
related interests in theatre / theatricality / drama / performance /
performativity. In practice, of course, those of us sharing these
languages often find ourselves divided as much as united by them: terms
and expressions with theatrical roots are now often deployed in
radically different ways in literary, artistic, philosophical,
psychoanalytic and social-scientific contexts (to name but a few). CIRTT
exists to explore the possibilities for performance-oriented thinkers to
speak to each other across these disciplinary boundaries-providing each
of us with new perspectives on our own preoccupations, and perhaps in so
doing, developing new possibilities for collaborative research.

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Performing Literatures will also form part of the 40th Anniversary
celebrations of the Workshop Theatre, which proudly continues to pursue
performance-oriented research from its place within an
internationally-respected School of English.

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Received on Mon Oct 09 2006 - 10:57:30 EDT

cfp categories: 
twentieth_century_and_beyond