Dances With Things: Scriptive Objects in Quotidian Performance (Panel / In-Person)


Special Session
Drama, Theater, and Performance / Geographies of the Fantastic and the Quotidian

PA Felton (Bowling Green State University - Main Campus)
felt@****.com (Log-in to reveal)

In her groundbreaking 2009 Social Text article "Dances With Things: Material Culture and the Performance of Race," Robin Bernstein introduces the notion of scriptive thing as something that "broadly structures a performance while simultaneously allowing for resistance and unleashing original, live variations that may not be individually predictable." Where objects can reveal, archive, or portray culture, Bernstein argues that things "script meaningful bodily movements, and these citational movements think the otherwise unthinkable." This session explores sociologist Robin Bernstein's concept of scriptive things and their role in inviting and provoking performances in everyday life. We invite papers exploring the relationship between physical, digital, or sonic "things" which invite or script performances of culture, identity, race, gender, class, or ethnicity.
In her groundbreaking 2009 Social Text article "Dances With Things: Material Culture and the Performance of Race," Robin Bernstein introduces the notion of scriptive thing as something that "broadly structures a performance while simultaneously allowing for resistance and unleashing original, live variations that may not be individually predictable." Where objects can reveal, archive, or portray culture, Bernstein argues that things "script meaningful bodily movements, and these citational movements think the otherwise unthinkable." This session invites papers which focus on the relationship between both quotidian and sublime "things" and the performance and formation of race, gender, and other structures of cultural identity.

Potential topics for papers include, but are not limited to:
- Clothing and affectations as orientalist, tropicalist performatives
- Toys, Dolls, and Games and racial construction
- NFTs, Gifs and Digital Blandishments
- Musique Concrete or sound object as scriptive thing,
- Performativity in Theatrical Props, Sets and Sceneography
- Performance Remains Souvenirs, and Fetish Objects

Authors are expected to have read Bernstein's article "Dances With Things: Material Culture and the Performance of Race" and/or have a baseline understanding of basic principles of performance and performativity. We encourage a "show and tell" approach and ask participants to bring objects in question to the panel presentation when possible. Bernstein's article available online at https://www.konstfack.se/PageFiles/17986/Bernstein%20Dances.pdf