Pioneer Vallery

Photo courtesy of Rickydavid under CC license


The English Department
at the
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

The English Graduate Organization, EGO

The Graduate School

The College of Humanities
and Fine Arts

The Graduate Student Senate


April 17th, 2010 at University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Performativity is inescapable; we all take part in it. Linguist J.L. Austin's notion of the performative speech act, "I do" in a marriage ceremony, for instance, does rather than describes, a theory that has re-shaped our thinking about the power of language. Immensely productive in its broad, interdisciplinary applications, performativity has influenced projects engaged in configuring identities in non-essentialist ways, as well as focused scholarly attention on how performativity is manifest in everyday and staged performances. Judith Butler's expansion of Austin's performativity to the areas of sex, gender, and subject formation has prompted questions regarding how (or if) regulatory discourse brings subjects into being. Performativity has asked us to consider the extent to which identities are performed and maintained through discourse. What are the political and artistic implications, then, for language and culture? This conference seeks to explore how performativity and performance intersect in everyday behaviors as well as in performances in literature, theatre, language, visual culture, and politics.

We invite submissions from a diverse range of critical perspectives and enthusiastically welcome performance pieces, as well as research that goes beyond the boundaries of a conventional conference paper, including creative responses to this topic, performative papers, and multi-media approaches.


Possible Topics

  • Performances in/of literature and language
  • Performativity and identity or post-identity (including but not limited to race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and nation)
  • Performance and technology or the web, including surveillance technologies
  • Subjects of the public and private spheres
  • Resistant performances
  • Limits and potential of performativity
  • The legacy of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
  • The iterative versus the authentic
  • Affect in/and performance
  • Teacher and student identity and performances in or out of the classroom
  • Performativity in art and visual culture
  • The body and performance or the performative body
  • Performances in history and historiography
  • Memory or trauma and performance
  • Social dramas and the performativity of everyday life
  • Speech as performative
  • Social protest performance
  • Political discourse and the performative
  • Performativity and the reader or audience
  • The politics of translation
  • Performativity and metaphorical thinking/poetics