[UPDATE] Caught in the Act: Performance and Performativity. Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference. April 17th, 2010.

full name / name of organization: 
UMass-Amherst English Graduate Organization
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Caught in the Act: Performance and Performativity is an interdisciplinary graduate conference to be held April 17th at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Performativity is inescapable; we all take part in it. Linguist J.L. Austin's notion of the performative speech act--"I do" in a marriage ceremony, for instance--does rather than describes, a theory that has re-shaped our thinking about the power of language. Immensely productive in its broad, interdisciplinary applications, performativity has influenced projects engaged in configuring identities in non-essentialist ways, as well as focused scholarly attention on how performativity is manifest in everyday and staged performances. Judith Butler's expansion of Austin's performativity to the areas of sex, gender, and subject formation has prompted questions regarding how (or if) regulatory discourse brings subjects into being. Performativity has asked us to consider the extent to which identities are performed and maintained through discourse. What are the political and artistic implications, then, for language and culture? This conference seeks to explore how performativity and performance intersect in everyday behaviors as well as in performances in literature, theatre, language, visual culture, and politics.

We invite submissions from a diverse range of critical perspectives and enthusiastically welcome performance pieces, as well as research that goes beyond the boundaries of a conventional conference paper, including creative responses to this topic, performative papers, and multi-media approaches.


• Performances in/of literature and language
• Performativity and identity or post-identity (including but not limited to race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and nation)
• Performance and technology or the web, including surveillance technologies
• Subjects of the public and private spheres
• Resistant performances
• Limits and potential of performativity
• The legacy of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
• The iterative versus the authentic
• Affect in/and performance
• Teacher and student identity and performances in or out of the classroom
• Performativity in art and visual culture
• The body and performance or the performative body
• Performances in history and historiography
• Memory or trauma and performance
• Social dramas and the performativity of everyday life
• Speech as performative
• Social protest performance
• Political discourse and the performative
• Performativity and the reader or audience
• The politics of translation
• Performativity and metaphorical thinking/poetics

• Participate as part of a proposed panel
• Present an individual paper
• Present a performance or creative piece


We will accept three different types of submissions:

1) Individual papers, including performative papers: please submit an abstract of 500 words, with your name, paper title, institution, and email address.

2) Panels: please submit an 800 word proposal for an entire panel of presentations (3-4 presenters). Included in this proposal should be abstracts of all presentations, an abstract of the panel itself, title of the panel, and information for each presenter (name, paper title, institution, and email address). If you are forming your own panel, you have the option of providing your own chair.

3) Performances and creative presentations/panels: we welcome submission of creative works, including creative writing, visual art, and dramatic performance. Please include a brief description of your project, as well as your name, project title, institution, and email address.

All submitters: In your submission, please inform us if you need a data or video projector. For individual papers or creative presentations, the conference committee will work to place you with other papers dealing with similar goals/issues. Paper presentations should run no longer than 15 minutes. Time restraints for presentations within creative panels and performances will be more flexible and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Please send your submission materials by email or email attachment to the Conference Committee at umassengconf@gmail.com no later than January 23, 2010. See our call online at .