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Theories of Performance

Theories of Performance

April 2008 | 320 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Theories of Performance invites students to explore the possibilities of performance for creating, knowing, and staking claims to the world. Each chapter surveys, explains, and illustrates classic, modern, and postmodern theories that answer the questions, "What is performance?" "Why do people perform?" and "How does performance constitute our social and political worlds?" The chapters feature performance as the entry point for understanding texts, drama, culture, social roles, identity, resistance, and technologies.

Written specifically for the undergraduate classroom, performance theories are explained in ways accessible to students, relevant to their lives, and richly illustrated with examples that encourage students to think more, to think harder, and to think differently about performances around them.

Chapter 1: Introducing Theories of Performance
Theory in Perspective: Can You See the Forest for the Trees?

What Is Theory?

Theory Questions: What? Why? How?

Kinds of Theory Questions

Assumptions about How Language Operates in Theory

Two Models of Communication

Performance as a Communicative Form

Assumptions about Performance: Mimesis, Poiesis, and Kinesis

Performance as a Key Term

Definitions of Performance

Claims about Performance: Constitutive, Epistemic, and Critical

Rethinking Theory and Performance

Chapter 2: Constituting Performance
Theory in Perspective: What Makes a Performance?

The "Nature" of Performance

Constituting Performance through Framing

Constituting the Performance Frame through Keying

Constituting Performance through the Performer

Constituting Performance through Audience

Rethinking Performance

Chapter 3: Performing Texts
Theory in Perspective: What Is a Text?

Humans and Symbol Use: Text Me Later. OK?

From Orality to the Page to the Screen

Interpreting the World as "Text"

When Text Meets Performance

Drama, Script, Theater, and Performance

Assumptions about Texts: Canon, Textuality, and Materiality

Interpreting Texts

Text Versus Performance

Rethinking Texts

Chapter 4: Performing Drama
Theory in Perspective: How Is the World a Stage?

The Drama of a Roller Coaster Ride

Reigning Metaphor: Life as Drama

What Is Aristotelian Drama?

Audience and Dramatic Form

Kenneth Burke's Dramatism: Life Is Drama

Performing Tragic and Comic Attitudes

From Dramatism to Social Drama

Analyzing Social Dramas

Social Drama: Raw Material for Performances

Rethinking Drama

Chapter 5: Performing Culture
Theory in Perspective: How Do Cultures Perform?

What Is Culture?

Approaches to Studying Culture

From Studying "Man" to Theorizing Movement and Play

Rites of Passage: Moving through Culture

Homo Ludens/Playing Man

Characteristics of Ritual

Rituals Are Performed

From Great Tradition to Cultural Performance

The "Performance Turn" in Study of Culture

Performing History

Performing Others

Rethinking Culture

Chapter 6: Performing Social Roles
Theory in Perspective: Who Am I?

Don't Play Games with Me!

"What's Wrong?"

"What's Right?"

Teams: Performing Together

Regions: Performing Spaces

When Good Performances Go Bad

Impression Management


Role Distance and Discrepant Roles

Stigmas and "Spoiled" Identities

Passing Genders and Races

Performing Disability

Rethinking Social Roles

Chapter 7: Performing Identity
Theory in Perspective: How Am I a Subject?

Do Social Roles Assume a Foundational Self?

Performativity's Rejections and Projects

Performativity Project 1: Identity Constitution as Material and Historical

Performativity Project 2: A Strategy for Identity Critique

From Philosophy to Speech Act to Laws

Performativity Project 3: A Political Practice of Identity

Rethinking Identity

Chapter 8: Performing Resistance
Chapter 8: Performing Resistance
Theory in Perspective: How Can Performance Change the World?

From Aristotle to Postmodernism

Bertolt Brecht on Performing Resistance

Alienation Effects of Epic Theater

Brechtian Techniques as Critical Lenses

From Brecht to Boal

Why Do People Take to the Streets? Models of Protest

Public Events through an Aristotelian Lens

Carnival and Protest

From Traditional to Radical Dramaturgy

Analyzing Protest Events as Performances

The Body Politic: How Do Bodies Intervene?

Resistance in Everyday Life: Foucault's Productive Power

Resistance in Everyday Life: de Certeau's Strategies and Tactics

Rethinking Resistance

Chapter 9: Performing Technologies
Chapter 9: Performing Technology
Theory in Perspective: What Exists?

Caveat Emptor: Buyer Beware of Old and New

What Is Technology? Extending Human Bodies and Powers

From Deus ex Machina to Flash Mobs: Extending, Enabling, and Accessing Performance

Performance Presence: An Ontology

Six Types of Theatrical Presence

Losing the Aura of Presence

Simulacra: There Is No Original

Cyborg Bodies: Human and Machine

Performing Cyborgs

Musical Performance: Is it Live or Is It Memorex?

Interactivity: From "Poke and See," Cyberpoetry, to Computer Art Environments

Reach Out and Perform Someone: Five Kinds of Mediated Presence

Rethinking Technologies



A very thorough approach to the subject. Nicely illustrated and presented. Some of the language and terminology is very North American ('Go figure') which might put some students off. That's why it's recommended rather than a core text.

Dr Alison Jeffers
School of Arts Histories and Cultures, Manchester University
July 15, 2010

Not Adopted yet. This book is very clear and usefull, though I am trying to determine how much my students will be spending on books for my course next fall altogether. I need to keep the primary texts so I am trying to see if I can find online versions of those to offset the cost of this textbook.

Ms Shaina Trapedo
English Comparative Lit Dept, University of California - Irvine
April 25, 2010

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ISBN: 9781412926386
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