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Theater and Performance

Performance, Performativity, And Theatricality

The performance concept has since the late 1980s enjoyed a reach beyond this interdisciplinary constellation of performance studies through the elaboration of theories of performativity. Judith Butler's famous formulation draws on continental philosophy and the work of the linguist J. L. Austin to argue that, through processes of forcible iteration, discourse has the power to enact or materialize (to "perform") that which it names. Adherents of performativity use these theories, in the place of earlier theories of "representation," to explain the ways in which norms of gender and sexuality are produced, reproduced, and modulated in cultural production. Thanks to this work, the performance concept has a life throughout the arts and humanities, even as current debates in performance studies seek to reconcile their field's orientation around acts of performance (the tactical and interpretive agency of the performer and audience, and the subversive or deconstructive nature of theatrical traditions) with performativity's emphasis on the power of textual systems.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Thallophyta to ToxicologyTheater and Performance - Performance Studies' Interdisciplinary Genealogy, Performance As Object, Performance As Method, Performance, Performativity, And Theatricality