Women and Science in Performance Seminar - Dec 1st deadline

full name / name of organization: 
Canadian Association for Theatre Research
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Over the years countless plays have used science to rationalize patriarchal ideologies and the staging of women as ‘naturally’ compassionate, nurturing, emotional, weak, and subordinate. Because of this, feminists have traditionally been suspicious of any recourse to the question of science, particularly the biological and medical sciences. However, recent feminist theorists, such as Elizabeth Grosz and Donna Haraway, have called for a reevaluation of the ways that science has been, is being, and can be deployed to critique conventional “relations of domination and subordination between races and sexes” (Grosz 33). Responding to this challenge, theatre scholars have begun to look back to historical plays and performances to develop a more nuanced understanding of the ways that science has been molded to align with the ever‐changing roles of women in society. Likewise, contemporary playwrights and performers have deployed science in their own work explicitly to critique traditional patriarchal ideologies and redefine gender identity.

For this seminar we welcome papers concerning the general topic of women and science in performance. We are particularly interested in papers that examine how science is deployed by twentieth‐century playwrights and performers in their representations of women, femininity, mothers and motherhood, women’s “nature,” fertility, reproduction, and relations between men and women. We also welcome papers that expand on current Feminist Science Studies, including the challenges of multi‐disciplinary research. Keeping in mind the conference theme of “Interconnected knowledge,” we are interested in ways that plays or performances participate in the dissemination and debate of scientific theories that explicitly concern women and “women’s issues.”


1. To what ends have feminist playwrights and performers deployed science in their work?
2. How have theories of evolution been used in the representations of women?
3. How have plays or performances either questioned or supported traditional scientific
thinking about “women’s nature”?
4. How do artificial reproduction technologies impact the performance of the female in
contemporary drama?
5. How is the perception of “motherhood” affected by new reproductive technologies?

Working Plan

Interested participants are asked to submit 250‐word abstracts to Lourdes Arciniega (mlarcini@ucalgary.ca) and/or James Lange (jlange@ucalgary.ca) by December 1, 2009. The seminar leaders will choose ten participants who will be notified of their acceptance by January 20, 2010. Seminar participants will then be asked to submit an 8‐10 page paper on a topic relevant to the discussion by March 22, 2010. The seminar leaders will also submit papers. The papers will be posted on a wetpaint.com webpage designed specifically for this seminar. Participants will be required to familiarize themselves with the other participants’ papers prior to the conference, and all will be invited to use the wetpaint.com site to comment on individual papers, discuss issues and topics arising from the papers, and propose topics for discussion at the conference. The seminar leaders will prioritize and distribute topics for discussion two weeks prior to the conference. At the conference itself the seminar will be organized as a roundtable and we will discuss and debate the topics and issues that emanate from the papers.

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