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Performance / Performativity / Enactment

Organizing Committee:


This class would explore the theoretical construct of performance and performativity.  We would begin with a close reading of linguistic theories the performance of language, namingly J.L. Austin's concept of the perfomative utterance, and move into Judith Butler and Eve Sedgwick's writings on gender, performance and politics.  Through these texts, we might explore the relationship among action, emotion, and enactment.  Ideally, 2 days would be devoted to more theoretical analysis, and a third day could be devoted to looking at art criticism and/or artist writings (Roselee Goldberg , Vito Acconci, Beuys, or Wolf Vostell, + more recent short articles ) attempting to frame the practice of performance, and recent performance works like Jeremy Deller's "The Battle of Orgreave", where enactment is deployed as a critical /  political strategy.



hi everyone,

If you're doing the reading this morning, great! Prioritize the Deleuze, Butler, then Tomkins, as I'm not sure we'll get through the Tomkins - it really could be a class unto itself.

Please take a flip through the Goffman, or at least bring it with you.

We're going to spend a fair bit of the class looking at Jeremy Deller and Valie Export as different historical models for performance and audience / performer relationships of confrontation and embodiment, so the reading is somewhat secondary.

see you soon.

Hi, is there any chance this class will be offered again? I signed up for it but for various reasons have not been able to attend any of the sessions. I've been downloading the readings with interest.

The chapter "What Are Affects" from the Silvan Tompkins reader has been posted.

Also, check out this short clip from Jeremy Deller's "The Battle of Orgreave"

One more video to come...


hey everyone,

Yes, even if you haven't read any of the prior texts, or attended other sessions, you can join us this weekend.

For this week, apologies on the delay for reading - I am awaiting a copy of the Silvan Tompkins book to arrive. Other readings if you want to get started are:

Gilles Deleuze "What is an Event" in "Leibnitz and the Baroque"
Judith Butler's "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution." (this gets more into embodiment than the text we read last week).

Otherwise, there will be 1-2 additional readings posted in the next day or two, along with a link to a performance we can use as an example for discussion. Vincent, could you email me re. videos - liz_glynn (at)


cara.michelle.baldwin's picture

wondering if it would be alright to come to the last class as well? i have experience/interest in performance. have read derrida, deleuze, butler and sedgwick and will do my best to catch up on reading this week if this is okay. mostly, i just want to join as a listener in what sounds like a really excellent conversation. thanks! cara baldwin

azdelslade's picture

hi, can i come to the last class if i have a lot of experience and interest in performance? i've read some austin, butler and sedgwick and will try to catch up with this week's reading... thx!

Readings, in order of priority:

J.L. Austin - Lecture 1 (dry but helpful to understand other texts; skip 2 if you're pressed for time)
Judith Butler Chapter 8
either Sedgwick Intro (which makes a nice constellation with the two prior) or the Goffman (less directly related, but more about the performance of the self)


hey liz - did you post the list of readings in a rough order of priority? if we're running short on time, which should we focus on do you think?

- m

hey Jade,

For Eve Sedgwick, it's just the intro - pages 1 - 33 if you have the book or a PDF with numbers. Paranoid Reading, however, is amazing, and I would have assigned it had I not wanted to scare anyone away with too much reading. Give it a shot if you have time.


For the Eve Sedgewick text, are we to read Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, or Ch 1 of Touching Feeling? a bit confused...



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