Performance and philosophy: interdisciplinary approaches to the performing arts

Johansson, Ola (2008) Performance and philosophy: interdisciplinary approaches to the performing arts. VDM Verlag, Saarbrucken, Germany. ISBN 9783639047899. [Book]

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The book, which is based on the award-winning doctoral dissertation The Room’s Need of a Name: A Philosophical Study of Performance (defended at Stockholm University, 26/05/2000), drives critical discussions on the possibility to analyse contemporary performance by means of written language. It sets out with an analysis of Richard Foreman's performance work, to which previous approaches prove insufficient due to their exclusively formalistic and textual strategies. The tacit, tangible and spatio-temporal features of Foreman’s I've Got the Shakes (1995) are associated with ritual characteristics of practical Kabbalah as much as features of postmodern performance. These partially contradictory practices are discerned within the same perception and can only be reconciled in an interpretation that goes beyond written analysis.

As long as theoreticians saw performance and language in terms of mimetic functions, a preconceived correspondence justified their theoretical achievements. This mimetic presupposition was vigorously criticized by 20th century language philosophers Ludwig Wittgenstein and Nelson Goodman, who view language as a set of contextual means which are practiced in diverse situations. The book thus inculcates the interactivity of performance as a cultural practice in which spectators’ interpretive contribution are equally meaningful to performative and interpretive factors of theatrical events as performed interpretations of manuscripts.

Consequently, language is viewed as a performative set of functions in performance and in scholarly interpretation. A number of comparative studies are conducted from a conceptually specified audience perspective and viable interpretations thus become a matter of comparative schemes for the evaluation of cognate social practices and locations.

The book is a development of the above mentioned doctoral dissertation which was never published internationality but which contributes with language philosophical perspectives into the very conditions of scientifically predicated theatre studies (cf. the German term Theaterwissenschaft and the Swedish teatervetenskap) versus the more pragmatic performance-as-research in the English speaking world.

Item Type: Book
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts
Item ID: 10800
Depositing User: Ola Johansson
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2013 14:28
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2021 11:43

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