Performance/Politics is a new working group (2012-2014) supported by the Humanities Institute at The Ohio State University.

Convened by Harmony Bench (Dance), Ryan Skinner (Music and AAAS), Jennifer Schlueter (Theatre and English), the group hopes to bring together faculty and graduate students interested in theories, histories, and practices of performance from all across campus. Our focus is especially on those who work in and around the performing arts disciplines, but we hope to also draw in participants whose work intersects with performance in non-traditional and unexpected ways. Our aim is to consider the relevance and import of contemporary work in Performance Studies, a field dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of expressive culture, to the OSU campus community and to our individual research.

Why this working group?
At The Ohio State University, there is a lot of interest in Performance Studies, but it exists in different pockets around campus. We hope to act as a hub bringing scholars together to share their work, providing a central location for professors advertising courses and students seeking mentors in the area of Performance Studies, and increasing the visibility of this interdisciplinary field at OSU.

What will we do?
This open group is based in a shared orientation to performance as an analytical framework, an object of analysis, and an expressive process. We intend to approach performance, conceptually and dramatically, through “the political” and vice versa. The working group will foster discussion around, for example, the impact of neoliberal policies on the making and funding of art; performance in and through new media and technology; the role of performance in contemporary social movements; art in the public sphere; performing arts as political commentary; performance in an era of global capitalism; the practice of art-making and the production of knowledge; collaborative research and creative communities; performance as a political tactic/strategy; among many other topics.

We anticipate inviting guest speakers and performers to share their work with faculty and students at OSU; hosting conversations around contemporary performance scholarship and around artists/works presented by the Wexner Center or other Columbus performing arts venues; and providing opportunities for graduate students and faculty to workshop and present their written and/or creative research. A lot of what we do will depend on the interests of the group.

Why now?
The group conveners feel that shifting curricula (due to semester conversion) and the creation of an arts corridor at OSU make this an opportune moment for scholars of performance and the performing arts to come together and articulate for themselves and for the campus community the import of performance to the intellectual community that is The Ohio State University. We hope you will join us.

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