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Theories of Performance
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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

 
Misrepresentation

 
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

 
References

 

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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