About this call for papers

We are currently seeking papers and participants for the CUNY Doctoral Theatre Students' Association 2018 Conference "Objects of Study: Methods and Materiality in Theatre and Performance Studies" which will take place May 10th, 2018 at the Graduate Center CUNY.

The multiple potential meanings of “object” within theatre and performance studies point to questions about the relationship between knowledge and materiality. With this conference, we issue a challenge to the common understanding of scholarly work as focused on an “object of study.” We seek to destabilize the terms “object” and “study” to explore how the ways in which we conceive of objects and materiality might influence the framework of our discipline. Are we, as scholars, engaging in acts of objectification? How do the objects also act upon us?

We invite participants to reflect on the assumptions, connections, slippages, tensions, and politics implicit in both senses of the “object”—as thing and as focus of study—and to consider the implications of new materialist, post-human, and object-oriented thought within and on the field of theatre and performance studies itself. Does our relationship to performance change when the nonhuman performs? How might it lead us to productively re-think our field and reflexively transform our study practice? What methods and ideas might help us to complicate and explore the relationship between objects and knowledge in theatre and performance studies? If the conception of the object shifts, what can be known?


During this day-long, student-run conference, we intend to rethink the core ideas and practices of our field by fostering a community of emerging scholars inside and outside theatre and performance studies. To that end we are calling for papers that consider objects and materiality in performance and/or papers that issue disciplinary challenges to the notion of the object of study.

We are seeking papers that respond in diverse ways to the questions emerging from a radical reconsideration of objects—both in performance and as the focus of research. Themes and interests can relate—but are not limited—to the following concerns:


We will host experimental working groups in which papers will be circulated among participants to be read in advance, rather than presented, with the intention of facilitating a reciprocal, synchronic and collective academic practice. We hope to exploit the freedom of our position as students and to create an environment in which participants feel moved to experiment and push at the boundaries of their scholarly engagements.


Please submit a brief bio and 250-word abstract by January 15, 2018 to [email protected]. Participants will be notified in late February 2018.

Supported and co-sponsored by Sidney E. Cohn Chair Distinguished Professor Marvin Carlson, Vera Mowry Roberts Chair Distinguished Professor David Savran, Lucille Lortel Chair Professor Jean Graham-Jones, The Ph.D. Program in Theatre, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, the Center for the Humanities, and the Doctoral Students’ Council.