CFP: Puppetry and Material Performance Working Session (ASTR/TLA Conference 2019)

03 May, 2019 by Boris Daussa-Pastor | 0 comments

CFP:  Puppetry and Material Performance Qorking Session (ASTR/TLA Conference 2019)

The goal of this Working Session is to foster active interest in and sophisticated analysis of puppetry and material performance within the broader field of theatre research. Deadline June 1st, 2019.


Puppetry and Material Performance


(Submission Deadline June 1st - See at the bottom for submission link)


For centuries, puppets have wielded unique power by connecting humans with gods, fascinating publics of all continents and ages, and bringing a more complex form of liveness to live theatre, while expanding imaginative worlds, providing overt or under-the-radar political commentary, and modeling more egalitarian ways of connecting with the material world. Yet despite the flowering in recent decades of puppetry performance and ground-breaking expansions in its scholarship, puppetry’s ever-burgeoning publics outstrip available modes for analyzing its specifics and describing its power. In the spirit of this year’s conference, this Working Session proposes a deeper investigation into the methodologies of puppetry and material performance. We therefore seek papers that interrogate three key questions:


How can exploring puppetry’s connections and similarities across disciplines—cognitive science, object oriented ontology, phenomenology, philosophy, film and media studies, environmental studies, etc.—provide puppetry’s varied publics with a deeper understanding of its breadth and relevance?


How do we analyze and articulate creative laws that are specific to puppetry and material performance? How, for instance, are objects, materials, design, and manipulation techniques unique conveyers of meaning? Alternately, how do different puppetry forms—ranging from shadow theatre to giant puppets to productions at the boundaries of material performance—establish and communicate the particulars of their aesthetic universes?


How might the vocabularies of puppetry analysis provide new, richer ways to understand how objects function in art forms with shared concerns, such as robotics, animation, devised theatre, circus, mask theatre, and postdramatic performance?


The overarching goal of this Working Session is to foster active interest in and sophisticated analysis of puppetry and material performance within the broader field of theatre research. Our aim is to develop essays and methodological approaches for a new edited collection on puppetry that identifies key recurrent themes, expands the available scholarship, and provides researchers with analytical tools for future puppetry and material performance research. We are committed to encouraging conversations among scholars from diverse communities at every point in their academic career.


So that we can be more intentional as a group about developing these critical tools for and beyond the field, all papers for this Working Session should be structured in two parts: the first (2 pages) should explicitly address the particulars of the author’s methodological approach; while the second (up to an additional 8 pages) should apply that approach to the chosen topic. 


Potential participants should submit a 300-word abstract and 200-word biography.


Key dates for selected participants: Papers (8-10 pages) should be distributed to all session participants by October 15. Papers should be read by group participants and feedback posted on our discussion board by November 1 in order to facilitate online pre-conference discussions. 


At the conference, participants will each present a brief (1-2 minute) abstract of their paper at the start of the session. Participants and audience members will then divide into their subgroups to discuss the themes that linked their papers. We will then reconvene with the larger group to exchange ideas. This will be followed by a discussion of the themes raised in the papers, including suggestions for how to further develop those themes.


For any specific questions, please contact the working group conveners Alissa Mello (alissa.mello[at], Claudia Orenstein (corenste[at], Dassia N. Posner (d-posner[at], and Lawrence Switzky (lawrence.switzky[at]




Don't Delay – Submit to a Working Session Today!


This year's conference, held in Arlington November 7–10, includes 37 exciting working sessions on the theme "Theatre's Many Publics." This link  directs you to the website with all the session titles and descriptions, as well as a link to the proposal submission page.


The submission page allows you to select up to three working groups for your paper. You must indicate your order of preference, and you may explain how your proposal fits with each working group you select.


Proposals are due June 1, 2019. Working session participants will be notified by July 1, 2019.




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