full name / name of organization:
Vanguards of the Right
Theater Arts Department
University of California, Santa Cruz
Vanguard movements are not restricted to the familiar avant-garde groups of nineteenth- and
twentieth-century Western Europe, although these tend to dominate our cultural imagination.
Recent scholarship has been expanding the realms of avant-garde discourse by exploring the
avant-garde's interculturalism and transnationality in order to assess more accurately the
complicated exchanges between cultures that contribute to vanguard formations. This seminar
will explore the "aesthetic migrations, borrowings, crossings, and contaminations" between
cultures that result in the least-studied vanguards of them all: those of right-wing politics.
In 1933, Goebbels invited Piscator to use his epic theater techniques in the service of Nazism.
This invitation represents just one historical moment of disruption of any easy linkage between
formal structures of performance and particular political agendas. This seminar wants to
investigate moments like this with the aim of unsettling critical paradigms that keep the works
of "progressive" experimental theater apart from vanguard performance practices in the service
of reactionary or right-wing politics. Areas of exploration could include experimental
performance created in the service of establishing a new right-wing regime, artistic borrowings
between opposed political parties, and aesthetic migrations between disparate vanguards. This
might play out in the relationship between audience/performer power dynamics and political
agendas; the desire of vanguardists to establish new types of "community"; appeals to
essentialism, mysticism, myth, etc., that cross political lines. Questions of "affiliation" (i.e., who
had what party's card) are less interesting here than finding and investigating aesthetic, formal,
and cultural crossings between political movements and vanguard performance practices.
This seminar is open to exploring a wide historical, geographical, and generic range not at all
limited to recent modernism, to Western cultural practices, nor to theater per se. All papers
should be grounded in the mission to bring to the fore political and aesthetic issues tied to
migration, circulation, and belonging through new research into vanguard performance.
This will take the form of a small seminar. Participants will be expected to read each other's
abstracts and papers. Authors will have discussed their papers with selected other members of
the groups in October and will begin the seminar discussion by outlining and investigating
points of intersection in their papers. The papers will be distributed not only among the
seminar authors but also, ideally, made available (via the web) for interested ASTR members in
order to enable the highest degree of conversation possible once the seminar convenes in
Please send a 200-word abstract and brief bio via email attachment to kmj_at_ucsc.edu by Friday,
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Received on Tue May 13 2008 - 22:26:25 EDT