CFP: American Society for Theater Research

Deadline: June 1, 2020

American Society for Theatre Research, November 5-8, 2020 (*note this is the same weekend as ASEEES)

Working Session – Disrupted Nationhoods and the Repetition of Change: Theatre and Performance in Central and Eastern Europe, and Russia

Continuing from last year, we invite proposals to our Central and Eastern European focused group that advance our conversation toward dismantling artificial binaries (east/west, national/state, tradition/progress, minority/majority, etc.) based on static notions of repetition and reperformance. We want to further explore performance and theatre as means to disrupt core conceptions of seemingly clear-cut “new nationalisms” and cultural boundaries and identities. With our shared focus on countries reshaped and reconstituted numerous times, we ask: what does reperformance mean in a context where identities have been reformed amidst repeated geographic upheaval and political turbulence? What meanings does repetition create where the most frequent form of repetition is change? What can reperformance mobilize for audiences who have often witnessed it merely perform rearranged, narrativized pasts to serve agenda-laden purposes? How does performance conceptualize “national” and ethnic identities of the region–themselves often transnational–as borders are redrawn around/through them? How does performance offer useful disruptions of localized identities that embrace, integrate, or reject the global and transnational beyond recycling the familiar? Within such a context, does repetition or reperformance inevitably fail? If so, what modes allow us to analyze theatre and performance from this part of the world?

We invite papers that examine repetition and reperformance within the context of Central, Eastern Europe, and Russia, shining a light on the various angles through which performances refract the distinct messiness of the culture, history, violence, and majority/minority relations within the region. We encourage proposals that disrupt the neat, artificial binaries and repetitions from before, behind, and after the Iron Curtain. Among others, topics could include:

  • Performances that expose slippages between history and political narratives.
  • The reprisal of traditions/canonical work in ways that question their conventional valuation.
  • Ways in which new/newly recognized populations offer methods and forms that undermine or move beyond repetition.
  • Performative police/security tactics as reincarnations of different historical practices.
  • Performance of documents, statistics, and interviews.

In early September, conveners will request 5-10pg. drafts from group members; we anticipate around 15 participants. We hope to attract scholars from beyond Eastern European Theater, including from History, Jewish and Slavic studies, Translation and Cultural Studies, etc. Based on common vocabularies, theoretical foundations, or interests (but ideally not geographical overlap), conveners will divide papers into groups of 3-4. Before meeting in New Orleans, small groups will circulate papers, offering feedback via email, culminating in revised 10-15pg. drafts in mid-October. Papers will then circulate to the entire working group. In New  Orleans, one third of our session will be dedicated to tracing linkages, repetitions, and revisions on themes that engage the full group, with the aim of generating broader discussion topics, but also to form small breakout groups different than the ones from September. These small groups will riff off a shared theme/thread amongst papers. The final third of our session will be recording these breakout group themes/discussions, sharing them with the full group, and tracing linkages across the working session as a whole. With these in mind, we will discuss the possibility of a journal special issue proposal for Theatre SurveyEuropean Stages, or Contemporary Theater Review.

Please note that all submissions must be received formally through the ASTR website. The form will allow you to indicate second and third choice working groups if you wish; if you do so, note that there is a space for you to indicate how your work will fit into those groups. The deadline for receipt of working group participant submissions is 1 June 2020 and we anticipate that participants will be notified of their acceptance no later than 30 June. Please contact the conference organizers at if you have any questions about the process.