ATHE Performance Studies Focus Group CFP

18 September, 2013

Posted by request.  Greetings to all. --Jean Graham-Jones


Performance Studies Focus Group

Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Conference 
24-27 July 2014, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Hotel, Scottsdale, AZ

Deadline (for complete session proposals, submitted online directly to ATHE at 
1 November 2013

The Performance Studies Focus Group (PSFG) of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) invites session proposals for ATHE’s 2014 conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. Proposals will be welcomed in many formats—e.g., scholarly panels, seminars, roundtables, performance-based presentations, working groups, and alternative session structures—and on all theater- and performance-related themes, particularly those that address the 2014 ATHE conference theme of "Dream Acts: Performance as Refuge, Resistance, and Renewal." With the landscapes of Scottsdale, and Arizona more broadly, as our stage—a territory marked with divisions drawn starkly along lines of race, ethnicity, nation, and class—we will assemble to consider the promise and potential that performance holds open for dreamers and actors of all kinds.  What fruitful interventions can be made when questions about performance converge with the human (and animal) need for refuge, shelter, and safety? With the exigencies of political economy—both past and present, here and abroad? With the demands for physical and spiritual replenishment in times of exhaustion and depletion? What vital opportunities for rethinking the various meanings (aesthetic, political, social, psychological, etc.) of dreaming and of acting do the sites of the Arizona desert and our specific resort/oasis within it afford us?

PSFG encourages papers and proposals representing all historical periods and geographic places. Proposals might consider some of the following questions, or pose alternatives to them:

- What forms of performance are ecologically local to the space of the desert, to the Arizona desert specifically, or to the historically specific context of the state of Arizona in 2013-14? How can performance be called upon as a form of action in itself, or as the mobilization of other forms of action, that could combat the intensification of xenophobia and the degradation of the environment in these spaces? And what role has the space of the desert (for example, in the life of Antonin Artaud), or the space of Arizona (for example, in the art of James Turrell), played historically in the dreaming up of performance ideas?

- In what specific ways and instances can performance allow us to reconsider the relationship between dreaming and action? How can performance illuminate the fine boundary that separates those dreams that lead to action from those that forestall or paralyze action? When does dreaming constitute an action in its own right? In light of those moments that Jill Dolan has described as “utopian performatives,” we might ask: what are the affective dimensions of dreaming, and how do these dimensions enable acts and activity? Alternatively, what are the affective and spiritual dimensions of deserts, desert experience, and of desertion/abandonment?

- How might performance studies reconsider the important role dreams have played as an influence and method for theater artists and performers of the past and present (e.g. Surrealism and its inheritors)? As a function of social ritual or a praxis of psychoanalytic inquiry? And how can dreams be used by theorists and practitioners of performance to gain critical leverage over repressive cultural formations and ideologies? What forms of performance can help reveal the dream state that masks an underlying world being gradually desertified economically? What contemporary theories still retain the power to awaken us to “the desert of the real”?

- How can performance build bridges that connect the Arizona desert to other deserts and other spaces outside of Arizona’s (and indeed, outside of America’s) borders? How do the liminal and liminoid characteristics of performance help to destabilize borders, frontiers, containment barriers, and policing systems at all levels? In light of recent U.S. legislative efforts such as the “DREAM Act,” what can performance teach us about the trafficking of bodies within and across these borders: about tourism, migrancy, immigration, impasse, detainment, extradition? How does performance illuminate the way these boundaries and these human flows operate within and constitute our supposedly “post-colonial” present?

- And what about institutional and disciplinary borders? Can dreaming and acting (as ideas) and the desert (as a space, whether real or imagined), be called upon to trouble those boundaries as well? In what ways does performance continue to invite crossovers between fields of study (literature, philosophy, musicology, ethnography, the natural sciences, etc.) and mediums of artistic practice (installation, video, “relational” art, music, live art, etc.)? What possibilities for troubling the familiar divisions between theory and practice, pedagogy and research, occur within the use of performance as a research methodology in its own right?

How to Submit Your Proposal:

1. All session proposals are filed electronically directly to ATHE. A link to the session proposal form, along with full explanations, can be found at <>. All session proposals have a deadline of 1 November. Please forward a copy of your completed proposal to Joseph Cermatori ( Also: please note that all audio-visual technology requests must be included in your completed proposal (see #3 below).The session proposal application form will not accept scheduling preferences.

2. ATHE also accepts proposals for Multidisciplinary (MD) sessions. Multidisciplinary panels must be sponsored by three different focus groups. (An ATHE committee may also offer sponsorship to an MD session proposal in lieu of a focus group sponsorship, but MD proposals must have a total of three sponsors, and at least one sponsor must be a focus group. No more than two committees should sponsor an MD proposal without a third FG sponsorship.) All MD session organizers must contact the Conference Planners of all sponsoring groups before submitting their session directly to ATHE. If you would like to learn more about ATHE Focus Groups, go to: All session proposals are due by1 November.

3. If your session will require the use of audio-visual equipment, you will need to indicate these requirements in the application materials for your session proposal. When indicating your need for an A/V device in the online session application form, please remember to request the appropriate grant to cover the cost of A/V support. These funds are available, and you are highly encouraged to apply for them. If your session proposal is accepted, you will be notified of the availability of requested A/V equipment when you receive the official PSFG announcement that your session has been accepted and scheduled. ATHE cannot accommodate A/V requests submitted after November 1, and will not accommodate A/V requests made on-site at the conference in August.

4. While individual papers will receive consideration, submissions that pull together a strong panel of participants are preferred. With individual papers, the Focus Group Conference Planner will curate panels, attempting to match up related papers, but placement cannot be guaranteed. In order to facilitate this process, these papers must be received directly by the Conference Planner Joseph Cermatori at, by October 10th. Individual paper proposals should include title, contact information, an abstract of 250 words, and specifications for any A/V needs. If you are looking for co-panelists, please feel free to contact a PSFG officer about posting your inquiries to our listserv: If you are not yet a member of the listserv, you can subscribe by sending an e-mail to In the body of the e-mail, type the following: subscribe PerformanceStudiesList Firstname Lastname (where Firstname and Lastname equal your first name and your last name).

5. Notifications for accepted and rejected sessions will be announced in March.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact: 
Joseph Cermatori, 
PSFG Conference Planner

Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University 
602 Philosophy Hall, Mail Code 4927,
New York, NY 10027


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