Sommerschule 2014: "Performance: Art, Culture, History"

07.09.2014 - 13.09.2014

Die Sommerschule 2014 wurde von der Graduiertenschule in Kooperation mit der Babeş-Bolyai-Universität in Cluj-Napoca (Rumänien) organisiert. Das Thema war Performanz. Neben den Promovierenden der Graduiertenschule waren auch Promovierende der Babeş-Bolyai-Universität, der Moskauer Higher School of Economics und der Universität Alberta (Kanada) dazu eingeladen, an der Sommerschule teilzunehmen. Auf dem Programm standen Vorträge, Seminare, Textdiskussionen und eine Exkursion.

Katalin Csehs Bericht über die Sommerschule 2014 lesen Sie hier.

Performativity and performance have become some of the most frequently cited concepts in the humanities and social sciences of the past twenty years. Although by no means synonymous, they are related and designate cultural expressions that are significant in terms of what they do rather what they refer to. Performativity in this very fundamental sense goes back to John Austin’s philosophical lectures, "How To Do Things With Words" (1962), in which he discovered types of utterances that were not definable in terms of their truth status but which, under certain conditions, could actually change a state of affairs: ‘I declare thee man and wife’. These he called ‘performatives’.
This emphasis on doing rather meaning, could also be expressed as a shift from signs, semantics and signification – the usual stuff of humanistic endeavour – to  performance, the so-called ‘performative turn’, was first posited by the US ethnologist and performance scholar Dwight Conquergood in the late 1980s. Conquergood diagnosed a fundamental shift in the humanities and social sciences from ‘viewing the world as text to the world as performance’ (1991: 190).  ‘Viewing the world as text’ is a direct reference to the ‘linguistic turn’ and semiotics which regard all phenomena within a textual paradigm with a whole complex set of consequences.
Texts are legible, replete with meaning and basically immutable. Viewing the world as a performance on the other hand implies a shift of emphasis away from referentiality, immutability and legibility to ephemerality and spectatorship. The paradigm shift, following Conquergood, can rendered as a set of oppositions:

World as text

World as performance





Fixed meanings

Dynamic changes

Emphasis on space

Emphasis on time

Scholar as decoder of meaning

Scholar as observer of processes

Subsequent research in many fields has expanded and to some extent productively blurred these oppositions. Leading exponents of this performative turn include Judith Butler (gender theory), Greg Dening (historical anthropology), Erika Fischer-Lichte (theatre and performance studies)
Whether in politics, history, literary studies or art history, performativity leads inexorably to a focus on performances of any kind ranging from political ceremonies to museum installations, from weddings to demonstrations, from subjectivity to ethnicity. Where there are actors and spectators (in the broadest sense of the terms) there is performativity.
In the summer school we discussed terms and concepts in relation to research associated with East and South East Europe. Through a combination of keynote lectures, seminars and workshops we explored how performance and performativity can enrich research perspectives across the humanities and social sciences.