CFP Popular Entertainments Working Group 2020 and 2021

02 October, 2019 by Mikael Stromberg | 0 comments

Cfp for the Popular Entertainments Working Group 2020 and 2021

Call for Papers: Methods 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.  Since 2017, the group’s strategic focus has been on 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 Galway, 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 Ecologies: Environment, Sustainability and Politics’). 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 31 January 2020/2021. Please specify ‘Popular Entertainments’ working group when submitting your abstract.

Note regarding Galway 2021. The Popular Enetertainment WG uses the original call for papers for 2021. All abstracts need to be resubmitted (with a guarantee of acceptance). New abstracts can also be submitted to be reviewed by convenors for acceptance.

The full text of participants’ papers (no more than 5000 words) should be emailed to the convenors as a Word attachment by 10 June 2021. 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,



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