CFP: Revealing Posthuman Encounters in Performance

CFP: Revealing Posthuman Encounters in Performance

Edited by Stefano Boselli and Sarah Lucie 

Abstract proposals due by February 28, 2022

Revealing Posthuman Encounters in Performance is an intervention to reframe current theatre studies methodologies to attend to the broader spectrum of non-human actors and the crucial ways they exert agency in the theatre event. 

Posthumanist discourse has exploded during the last decade, inviting a turn toward a post-anthropocentric, post-dualist approach to theatre studies. However, the common definition of theatre as performance of human actors for a human audience still privileges anthropocentrism.

With this collection of essays for performance studies scholars and practitioners, we aim to engage posthumanist thought to expand readers’ awareness, refocus their perspective, and reveal a broad spectrum of non-human actors that often remain unseen even as they interact with human performers. Performance studies have indeed included props, objects, and technology in their purview, but these analyses tend toward a historical or semiotic/symbolic approach that consequently neglects the vibrant non-human agencies involved at several levels of scale.

Our project will take stock of the methodological shifts necessary in theatre and performance to highlight non-human agency across historical and contemporary examples. Beyond close readings of contemporary performances, we encourage contributions that investigate historical examples from the ancient world through the present, and reflect on methodological processes in order to apply this posthuman focus across the field moving forward. We seek a deep engagement with contemporary theories, as well as a dramaturgical understanding of theatre and performance that goes beyond the staged performance to connect with the larger rhizomatic networks of actors involved.

Contributors are asked to consider the following questions:

  • What does an attention to human–non-human networks ask of theatre theory or developing methodologies of theatre studies? What expanded analytical tools do scholars and practitioners need?
  • How do we measure or account for the agency of non-human actors? What traces have we lost sight of and how do we refocus our gaze?
  • If the “human” is itself a constructed notion, what did the developing definition of humanhood exclude and how did it interfere with a comprehensive archive and the way we study historical performance practices?
  • What counts as a non-human actor? What about supernatural beings, ETs, ghosts, dreams, ideologies, viruses, substances, institutions, and so forth?
  • What might this expanded vision mean for theatre production and performance in practice?
  • How can an attention to the human–non-human collaborations and alliances in theatre aid in understanding other social/ecological concerns?

Possible themes include:

Theories: Posthumanism, Actor-Network Theory, Assemblage Theory, New Materialism, Feminist New Materialism, Object Oriented Ontology, Flat Ontologies, Ecology, Dramaturgy

Actors/Agents: objects, performing objects/puppets, cyborgs, robots, machines, technology, computer programs/algorithms, media/social media, natural phenomena/weather, hyperobjects, microbes and viruses, assemblages, ensembles, institutions, capital/money, historical events/politics, religion, ideology, audiences, affect.

The editors welcome abstracts for review from both established and emerging scholars.
Interested contributors should send a brief bio (150 word max.)
and abstract proposal (300 word max.) by February 28, 2022.
Early submissions are welcome.

We expect essays will be between 6,000-9,000 words but length may vary in consultation and collaboration with the editors.

Estimated timeline:

Abstracts due February 28, 2022
Authors notified by April 30, 2022
Final proposal submitted to Routledge May 30, 2022
Potential contract: August 2022
Chapters due to Editors Jan 30, 2023
Chapters returned for redrafting May 30, 2023
Final chapters due June 30, 2023
Manuscript to Routledge July 30, 2023

In production: September 2023

Publication: Spring 2024

All inquiries and submissions should be sent

to co-editors Stefano Boselli and Sarah Lucie


About the Editors

Stefano Boselli is a New York-based theatre scholar and stage director who enjoys combining theory with practice. He is currently completing a monograph on how the study of theatre history can be significantly enriched through the lens of actor-network and assemblage theories, focusing on a group of Argentine artists who moved to France to achieve fame and dominated the Parisian scene between the 1980s and 90s. He teaches theatre courses at Marymount Manhattan College, York College, and other colleges in and around NYC.

Sarah Lucie, PhD, is a theatre scholar and dramaturg. Her research approaches contemporary performance and digital art through new materialism, ecocritical theory, and posthumanism. She currently teaches in the theatre and dance departments at Marymount Manhattan College and Drew University.