Playing in Someone Else's Yard

full name / name of organization: 
Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
contact email: 


Academic institutions - colleges, universities, societies, and funders - have become fixated on promoting the intertwined abstractions of interdisciplinarity, crossdisciplinarity, and multidisciplinarity. ATHE, for example, encourages its focus groups to create multidisciplinary panels for its annual conferences. Yet the study and practice of theater already involves multiple disciplines. As scholars and faculty members, we are being asked to stretch even further beyond our accepted inter/multi/crossdisciplinarity, but the consequences of doing so remain unexamined. To what end are we interdisciplinary? What is the impact of interdisciplinary on our teaching and scholarship? These two sessions explore this issue of "playing in someone else's yard," both in terms of the advantages and rewards, but also in terms of the potential frustrations and pitfalls of so doing.

We therefore seek papers for either of the two proposed sessions for the 2013 ATHE Conference "P[L]AY: Performance, Pleasure and Pedagogy," to be held Orlando, Florida at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, August 1 - 4, 2013

*Playing in someone else's yard I: Researching and Writing across, in, or to, other disciplines*
Many disciplines - History, English, Anthropology, Sociology - play with the tools of theater historians, borrowing terms and theoretical frameworks such as "performance" and "rehearsal" to understand texts and events; theater scholars do the same kinds of borrowing. What are the processes and challenges of researching and writing using the methodologies of another discipline? When writing for non-theater scholars, does that change what we write about or how we write it? Should an interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary approach change how we write? Should certain discipline-specific tools and boundaries be maintained? What are the ethical considerations - cultural appropriation being one issue - with 'playing' in someone else's yard? What are the joys of playing in someone else's yard? Papers could model research and thinking about theater using the tools of another discipline, or address any of these questions from a theoretical/philosophical perspective.

*Playing in someone else's yard II: Teaching across, in, or to, other disciplines*
It is becoming more and more common for job ads to specify that applicants should not only teach Theater History 101, but also direct 2 shows a year, and furthermore teach costume design. Faculty may find themselves teaching a course that they themselves took as an undergraduate or graduate student, but which is not the subject of their primary research or teaching interests. What are the strategies for: teaching outside of your home department (your own yard); teaching a subject that you haven't given much thought to in 10 years; teaching students with no theater background? How might teaching in other disciplines be an advantage while on the job market? Conversely, how might an interdisciplinary approach be a disadvantage under certain circumstances?

Please send your 200-word proposal (including name, contact information, and any technology requests) to:
Kathryn Edney
In your proposal, please indicate which session you are applying to.