Text and Performance is an interdisciplinary exploration of the relationship between “text” and “performance” as its plays out in different artistic genres. What do we mean when we refer to the “literary text,” the “performative text,” and the “cinematic text,” and how do these texts often overlap with or refer to one another? While “text” in performance, usually created from a prior playtext or script, is
typically acknowledged as the blueprint for performative action, new issues arising from fields such as semiotics, feminist and gender theory, cultural studies, and reception theory have questioned where
meaning actually resides: In the reader/viewer’s response? In directorial vision? In the performers’ interactions on stage? In the interpretive “readings” of live spectators? Essentially, we are talking
about how artistic work is interpreted and the multiplicity of ways that readers and viewers make meaning of these texts and performances. Many of the analytic questions that we pose whether formalist, psychoanalytic, historicist, or political suggest that the act of interpretation is both creative and interdisciplinary and is produced in some way by the cultural situation of the reader/viewer as much as by the formal codes and strategies of the texts in question. The mediums we will explore include literature, drama, performance art, film, and dance, as well as types of “cultural performance,” where the text is created communally. Readings will include works by Kate Chopin, Tennessee Williams, Anna Deavere Smith, Henry Sayre, Toni Morrison, Sally Banes, Martha Graham, Pina Bausch, and Meredith Monk, among others.