The Performance Studies Research Group draws together scholars from various disciplines to discuss foundational and new work in the field of performance studies. We also host quarterly talks by leading scholars from US and international universities. Past speakers include Shannon Jackson (University of California, Berkeley), Soyini Madison (Northwestern University), Rebecca Schneider (Brown University), Charlotte Canning (University of Texas, Austin), Harvey Young (Northwestern University), and Henry Bial (University of Kansas).
Since the 1990s, performance studies has increasingly informed conversations in the humanities and social sciences in the US academy. Perhaps best defined as a mode of inquiry, rather than a discipline or a field, performance studies brings theoretical insights from theatre, film, dance, and music to both artistic work and nonartistic public practices (such as protests, conventions, religious rituals, and social customs). Methodologically, it borrows procedures from anthropology, historiography, media studies, theatre, cultural and literary studies. In short, performance studies examines the way individuals and groups make and transfer meaning beyond that which is text-based, including voice, gesture, posture, ritual, play, other visual and aural media, the use of space, and even pre-lingual “affective” forms of communication.
Through our collaborative work, we are laying foundations for the University of Washington to be a vital space for sustained conversation about how performance studies helps us know the world around us.