CFP: Theatre Journal special issue for Dec 24 "Care, Carework, and Performance"

13 August, 2023 by Sean Metzger | 0 comments

CFP: Theatre Journal special issue for Dec 24 "Care, Carework, and Performance"

Theatre Journal seeks submissions by Feb 1, 2024 for a special issue on “Care, Carework, and Performance”

In this post-2020 moment, care has become “a keyword of our time” as seen in an explosion of special issues, anthologies, and conferences in theatre and performance studies, of which ATHE’s 2023 conference, “Building from the Rubble: Centering Care,” serves as just one iteration.[1] As Hi‘ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart (Kānaka Maoli) and Tamara Kneese explain, care gained traction in the US when cultural workers and scholars sought to cope with their grief in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election.[2] This trend intensified during the Covid-19 pandemic in response to failing infrastructures of public health, governance, and education.[3] Care also became increasingly urgent as a response to the forces of neoliberal violence. As Phaedra C. Pezzulo explains, “If neoliberalism is the zeitgeist of contemporary politics—championing hierarchies of capitalist individualism, hypermasculine competition, xenophobic border policing, white settler colonialism, anti-Black racism, fascist propaganda, petrochemical extractivism, and more—then care is the structure of feeling, emerging in resistance.”[4] Pezzulo indicates that the line between care and resistance can be easily blurred even as she suggests the incipient failure of care as a means to counteract these overlapping systems of violence and harm. 


How does this “structure of feeling” play out in performance? How to theorize practices of care in critical, historical, and material terms? How to center the radical potential of care while also critiquing its capacities for academic extraction from Black feminist thought, Indigenous studies, disability studies, and queer theory? How might theatre, dance, and performance studies contribute to a strengthening and sharpening of care(work) as a theoretical and/or historiographical lens through its emphasis on collective artistic labor? How might theatre and dance historians interpret archives differently through the lens of care and carework?[5] How might performances that center kinship across species intervene in systems of carelessness? 


This special issue seeks to deepen these questions. We invite submissions that explore explorations of care, carework, and performance in conversation with Black feminist thought, Indigenous studies, critical race studies, disability studies, queer and trans* theory, transnational feminism, ecocriticism, and animal studies (among other frameworks). We especially invite analyses of theatre, dance, and performance that are attuned to the labor of care and how those labors have been understood and iterated differently across historical eras and geographies. This special issue seeks promiscuous engagement with a wide range of interlocutors to help ensure that our field contributes to and expands a burgeoning interdisciplinary movement.

This special issue will be edited by Theatre Journal editor Laura Edmondson. We will consider both full-length essays for the print edition (6,000–9,000 words), as well as proposals for short provocations, video and/or photo essays, and other creative, multimedia material for our online platform (500–2,000 words). For information about submissions, visit Submissions for both the print journal and the online platform should reach us by no later than February 1, 2024.

Submit via ScholarOne:

Editor Laura Edmondson welcomes questions and inquiries at


[1] In 2019, Performance Studies International announced that its 2020 conference (later canceled) would focus on “Crises of Care,” then, in March 2020, Manchester University Press released the anthology Performing Care, edited by UK theatre and performance scholars James Thompson and Amanda Stuart Fisher. The panels and working sessions at the 2022 annual American Society of Theatre Research conference, “Catastrophe,” were filled with references to care and carework as if to mitigate the rhetoric of disaster (see, for example, See also the 2023 issue of Performance Research, “On Care,” co-edited by Felipe Cervera, Helena Grehan & Kristof van Baarle.

The description of the 2023 ATHE conference can be found at

[2] Hi‘ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart and Tamara Kneese, “Radical Care: Survival Strategies for Uncertain Times,” Social Text 38, no. 1 (2020): 1-16.

[3] See, for example, Dean Spade, Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next) (London: Verso, 2020).

[4] Phaedra C. Pezzullo, “Resisting Carelessness,” Review of The Care Manifesto: The Politics of Interdependence, by The Care Collective, Cultural Studies 36, no. 3 (2022), 507-509, quote on 507.

[5] See, for example, Ariel Nereson’s “Dancing Plague: Archives of Celebration and Care in Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane's Secret Pastures.” Theatre Journal Vol. 74, No. 4 (December 2022): 485-505.

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