PPWG Aims & Activities

This is the formal proposal that was originally sent to the PSi Board:

Proposal for
A PSi Performance & Philosophy
Working Group

Why the group is proposed

As the PSi # 13 conference schedule evidenced, there are a large number of international scholars in our organization who are working with philosophy in conjunction with theatre and performance. Postgraduates, emerging scholars and established figures presented papers dealing with the ideas of a diverse range of philosophers including: Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Ranciere, Luce Irigaray, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard and Michel Foucault. This working group is proposed to encourage debate and collaboration between PSi members who have in common their engagement in philosophy as it intersects with performance studies.

What its principle business is to be

The working group will undertake research discussions and projects that examine connections between performance and philosophy. The group will research the nature of the relationship between philosophy and performance in a variety of contexts, such as: the use of philosophy as a methodology in Performance Studies; performance theory and practices exploring philosophical themes; philosophers’ writings on the theatre and performance; dramatic texts by philosophers.

What are the research questions it intends to pursue

Performance studies scholars find discourses and conceptual frameworks in philosophy that aid their analysis of such longstanding concerns within the field as: the relation between presence and representation, body and mind, materiality and temporality, self and other, language and affectivity.

The working group will pursue research questions including, but not limited to, the following:
• How might philosophy and performance relate? To what extent might performance be understood as that which puts philosophy into practice? Are there tensions between Philosophy’s tradition of abstraction and Performance Studies concern for pragmatics?
• What are the benefits and risks of the translocation of concepts from continental philosophical into the study of performance? What are the values and problems of configuring an individual philosophers’ work as a methodology for the study of performance: the Deleuzian, Derridean, Foucauldian etc.?
• How might the writing of figures from philosophy contribute to the study of performance? What might Performance Studies contribute to contemporary debates in continental philosophy?
• How have performance practitioners, past and present, engaged with philosophy? How have philosophers, past and present, responded to events in performance?
• Can philosophy be understood as performance? Can performance be understood to be doing philosophical work?

Plan of any upcoming meetings

The Performance and Philosophy working group would be scheduled to have its first meeting at PSi # 14 in Copenhagen in August 2008.

Agenda of projects

• Create a listserve to encourage year-round communication and research discussion between members and allow them to share information regarding forthcoming events, publications, CFPs etc. concerned with performance and philosophy.
• Contribute content on the working group and its activities to a dedicated area of the existing PSi website, eg. i) represent the specific research interests of the working group’s individual members, ii) advertise forthcoming meetings and to archive documentation of past meetings, iii) house a collectively constructed performance and philosophy bibliography, iv) offer a platform for online group discussions concerned with performance and philosophy.
• Actively seek out scholars working at the conjunction of performance and philosophy in a wide range of countries in order to create a genuinely international working group.
• Investigate the possibility of appointing representatives for the working group in different international institutions with a view to organising meetings at a local level.
• Establish official connections and communication channels between the PSi performance and philosophy working group and i) the TaPRA Theatre and Philosophy working group; ii) the ATHE working group. NB: Informal connections have already been made with Dan Watt and Daniel Meyer-Dinkgrafe (TaPRA) and Josh Abrams (ATHE). All parties have expressed support for the idea of an annual meeting of the three working groups.
• Coordinate an annual meeting between the PSi, TaPRA and ATHE performance/philosophy working groups.
• Encourage scholars working in the field of Philosophy to attend and contribute to PSi conferences and/or working group meetings.
• Work towards longer-term goals such as i) the coordination of performance and philosophy working group panels at future PSi conferences, ii) publications of research generated by working group members.

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