CFP Popular Entertainments Working Group 2019

17 September, 2018 by Mikael Stromberg | 0 comments

The Popular Entertainments Working Group will be meeting again during the next conference of the International Federation for Theatre Research, at the Shanghai Theatre Academy, China, 8-12 July 2019

Call for Papers 2019: Methodologies of the Popular


Since its foundation in 2006, IFTR’s Popular Entertainments Working Group has primarily been engaged in a project of recuperation: uncovering and giving voice to historical forms of popular performance that, owing to their perceived ‘low culture’ status, limited archival record, or non-literary nature, had largely been overlooked in dominant theatre history narratives. The multiple performance styles/genres within the group’s field of interest are, for example, circus, burlesque, variety, vaudeville, revue, sport as performance, music in popular entertainments, popular theatre, clowns and comedy. As the group matured, the scope and focus of its work has expanded to consider popular entertainment’s important role in the wider theatre ecology; the influences of the popular on historical avant-garde and contemporary experimental practices; and the changing cultural status of popular forms.  At the IFTR annual conferences in Sao Paulo (2017) and Belgrade (2018), the working group set as its strategic focus research that engages with, discloses, and/or scrutinises the unique methodological challenges posed by working with popular forms and artefacts. The group’s plan is to continue this line of work through IFTR 2020, after which we will draw on members’ work to publish a book of case studies which specifically gives voice to the research materials, theories and methods used by scholars in our field.


For IFTR Shanghai in July 2019, the Popular Entertainments Working Group invite contributions from scholars that engage with any of the areas set out above or the wider conference theme (i.e., ‘Theatre, Performance and Urbanism’). In view of its publication plans, the group are particularly interested in papers that attend to issues around defining, theorising and researching popular modes of performance. Papers might focus on, for instance:


·         Appropriate methodologies for researching popular entertainments given the highly ephemeral nature of performance and the often-limited archival record of them

·         The common sources/methods used within our research practice, and what difficulties these present to the researcher

·         The ‘archive’ and ‘alternative archives’: what are they and how are they used effectively?

·         Approaches to reconstructing an ephemeral performance practice

·         Definitions and theories of the popular that are used to classify and analyse forms of performance, and understand the consequences of its ‘popular’ status

·         The possibilities and limitations of oral histories

·         ‘Accidental research’: what are some of the strange byways through which materials are found for research?


Group Meetings

The Popular Entertainments Working Group operates by circulating members’ draft papers in advance of the conference, enabling a more focused discussion. Once papers are circulated, members are then asked to nominate another paper they’d like to moderate. The group allocates approximately twenty minutes for discussion of each paper. Members are asked to speak about their research for ten minutes; visual or AV material that amplifies or supports their paper in some way is encouraged. (As all papers are read in advance, presenters are not required to provide an oral summary of their paper.) The moderator previously assigned to the paper will then lead the remaining ten minutes of discussion.


Occasional attendees and members who are not presenting are welcome to participate.


Submission of Abstracts


Abstracts of 250-300 words should be submitted no later than 14 January 2019. Please specify ‘Popular Entertainments’ working group when submitting your abstract.


Notice of acceptance will be communicated by the middle of February 2019.


The full text of participants’ papers (no more than 5000 words) should be emailed to the convenors as a Word attachment by 10 June 2019. Papers will then be distributed to members of the group for reading and a discussant will be allocated to each.


Information about the Popular Entertainments Working Group can be found at:


The conveners of the Popular Entertainments Working Group are:
Dr Micke Strömberg, University of Gothenburg, Sweden,

Dr Jason Price, University of Sussex, United Kingdom,

Stay up to date with the IFTR Weekly Digest