CFP for Volume Editors for Women's Innovations in Theatre, Dance, and Performance

08 June, 2022 by Wendy Arons | 0 comments

CFP for Volume Editors for Women's Innovations in Theatre, Dance, and Performance

We are pleased to announce a call for Volume Editors for an exciting new series to be published by Bloomsbury Methuen.

The proposed four-volume series Women’s Innovations in Theatre, Dance, and Performance aims to capture the innovations women have made to the performing arts in collections of essays that also showcase innovative feminist approaches to historiography. Volume editors will have the opportunity to help us achieve our goal of producing a series that captures a broad and inclusive scope of racial, ethnic, geographic, and cultural diversity in women's innovative contributions to the field. We are open to (and even encourage) proposals from teams of co-editors.

Below is the CFP for Volume Editors to the series; please consider joining us in this endeavor, or share with colleagues you think may have interest. The three of us will also be at IFTR in June, and we are happy to meet in person to discuss the series and your interest and/or participation there. Please reach out to let us know if you wish to set up a meeting in Reykjavik (

Best wishes,
Wendy Arons, Melissa Blanco Borelli, Elizabeth Son 

Women’s Innovations in Theatre, Dance, and Performance
Call for Volume Editors

The proposed Bloomsbury series Women’s Innovations in Theatre, Dance, and Performance aims to capture the innovations women have made to the performing arts in their historical, geographical, and disciplinary diversity. The definitions of both “performance” and “woman” are capacious. The former includes all forms of theatre, dance, opera, performance art, and solo performance. The latter includes cisgender, women-identified, and femme bodies. Innovation is defined by the context in which it happens. It can be something that disrupts or breaks from conventions; it can create new methods (forms, styles, aesthetics, etc.); it can be something that establishes a strong influence in the development of the field. We are also providing our editors with capacious methodological freedom to find working definitions for innovation based on their own approach to the volumes and the respective sections. This series seeks to broaden, celebrate, and recover historical awareness of these performance-based artmakers and their contributions; as such, it showcases innovative, feminist historiographical approaches along with a history of women’s innovation in the field. 

The primary goals of this set will be to:
-Showcase and recuperate the innovative contributions of women to theatre, dance, and performance from across time and space;
- Emphasize novel, feminist historiographical approaches to the writing of women’s innovations in theatre, dance, and performance;
- Highlight the necessary relationship between form (the way in which history is written) and content (historical material in the chapter) in the writing of women’s performance histories.

We propose to produce a four-volume set; each volume will focus on a role, broadly conceived. The set will be organized as such: Vol. 1:  Performers; Vol. 2: Creators; Vol. 3: Designers & Crafters; and Vol. 4: Leaders. Each volume will showcase how historiographical form and content are interrelated through a framework that seeks to explore relationships across time and space rather than linear narratives that privilege cause and effect. Highlighting a feminist historiographical approach, each volume will address questions of histories, narratives, time, and space. In order to put emphasis on genealogies and networks, we organize the volumes in three parts, evoking the metaphor of a feminist ecosystem: roots (the earliest records of women’s innovations); fruits (case studies of major innovators generated from those roots); and rhizomes & canopies (investigations of the networks that have emerged from the interconnections and influences of these women innovators and their innovations). 

We invite volume editors to solicit contributions from scholars, artists, and other practitioners; editors should seek contributions that will capture a full range of historical, geographical, and cultural diversity. We strongly encourage the solicitation of contributions from those situated in the Global South and from scholars and artists representing the global majority. Authors will be invited to consider the cultural, historical, political, and social inflections of women’s innovations in their specific context, though transhistorical and comparative analyses are also welcome. In addition, we also strongly encourage editors to elicit contributions that move away from an individualist view of history and consider the innovations of women artists working in collectives and collaborations. 

Editors will also be expected to direct contributors to attend to historiographical and methodological questions and strike a balance between presenting a case study and reflecting on historiographical questions. As such, throughout the volume, contributors will be asked to pose and answer questions like:
• What new analytical lenses or forms of redefinition are necessary to give credit to women in history whose work as performers, creators, stagecrafters, and leaders has heretofore escaped recognition?
• How do these new lenses and redefinitions challenge conventional theatre histories? 
• What values and principles undergird these inquiries? 
• How might the method of narrating their contributions reflect the methods through which they innovated their respective fields? 
• What are the limits of a recuperative history when women artists and innovators still operated within particular systems of oppression?

The organization and content of each 160-250,000-word volume will follow a three-part structure:

Part I: Roots 
Chapters in this part will trace the earliest records of women working in the role encompassed by each respective volume. Guiding questions for Part I include: Where do we see earliest examples of women’s influence and innovation in the field? How did women contribute? What were the barriers? What were the cultural factors that lent support or scaffolded success? What were the economic and social conditions in which women made their work? How do we know about their contributions? 

Part II: Fruits
Chapters in this part will consist of case studies of major figures or collectives/collaborations working in the role encompassed by each respective volume. Guiding questions for Part II include: How has the ecosystem of earlier women’s innovation borne fruit in subsequent generations and contexts? What kinds of performance genealogies emerge and how do they help reconsider the ways in which performance genealogies are understood (shaped, constructed)?  

Part III: Rhizomes and Canopies
Chapters in this part will seek to thread together and draw connections between the “roots” of Part I and the figures/case studies in Part II, looking to understand influence, community, rivalry, social pressure, artistic development, etc., and to trace the ways in which innovation may sprout rhizomatically in disparate contexts or result from far-reaching canopies of interconnected relationships. Guiding questions for Part III include: Where do we see cross-cultural influence, and where do we see isolated developments (in parallel or unique)? What networks can be traced, and how does that change our understanding of theatre/dance/performance history as a whole? How does this means of writing history uncover what has previously been occluded or lost? 

Volume I: Performers 
This volume will focus on innovations by women artists such as dancers, actors, performance artists, and other performers. We conceptualize performers as those who inhabit the worlds constructed onstage by designers and crafters. Contributors will write histories of how women performers innovatively used gestures, movement, and acting techniques and how their embodied acts negotiated racialized, gendered, and sexualized assumptions. Contributions to this volume will investigate these assumptions in relation to the historical, cultural, and political realities of women’s lives and interrogate the stakes of what it means for women to take center stage and to occupy space. 

Volume II: Creators
This volume interrogates the ways in which women “creators” established, maintained, rallied, and asserted their practice across time and space. We conceptualize creators as those who create the worlds that will be inhabited by the performers or materialized by designers and crafters. Contributions to this volume will primarily focus on examining the innovations of women choreographers, playwrights, directors, managers, and dramaturgs. 

Volume III: Designers & Crafters 
This volume will focus on the contributions of women to theatrical world-building stagecraft in general, and in particular to their innovations in the areas of theatrical costume, scenic, sound, lighting, scenography, and media design. Contributors will be encouraged to define the roles of designers and crafters expansively and to include innovations by women from eras and contexts in which design specialization had not yet occurred (e.g., contributions and innovations by performers, managers, directors, dramaturgs, writers, or choreographers to stagecraft and design). 

Volume IV: Leaders 
This volume will focus on women who innovated leadership roles in theatre, dance, and performance. Recognizing that “leadership” could take different–and sometimes not fully recognized–forms depending on geographical, historical, and aesthetic contexts, this volume will seek to open up the ways in which women played leadership roles even while they may have been redefining leadership as a practice through collaborative work, or adopting/adapting to imposed limitations on their ability to lead through inventive tactics and practices. 


The Series Editors are Wendy Arons (Carnegie Mellon University), Melissa Blanco Borelli (Northwestern University), and Elizabeth Son (Northwestern University).

We welcome proposals for Volume Editors. We also encourage co-editors for each volume should there be interest by more than one individual per volume. If you are proposing to be a Volume Editor, please send us a CV and a short cover letter that details your editorial interest and experience, as well as your approach for achieving the series’ goals of centering the diversity of women’s innovations across the broadest possible range of cultural, historical, political, and social contexts. Please send these materials to by July 15, 2022. 

If you have any questions, please email:










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