Published: 20 October 2016

Firm foundation for performance philosophy

A new academic field called performance philosophy has blossomed in the last few years, with the creation of an international research network, a journal, a book series and a programme of seminars, lectures and events, including the discipline’s first two biennial conferences.

Now the field is putting down strong roots with the formation of the Centre for Performance Philosophy at the University of Surrey.

Surrey’s Dr Laura Cull, Head of the Department of Theatre & Dance, has been one of the major figures in building the new movement, and will be the head of the new research centre as it becomes the fulcrum for performance philosophy’s future development.

She said: “Surrey has a great group of staff across the disciplines who are experts in performance and philosophy. Staff research covers a wide range of topics from the relationship between Shakespeare and phenomenology to the idea of musical improvisation as a way of knowing.

“The new Centre for Performance Philosophy will provide a platform for this innovative research, support a community of interdisciplinary PhD students and host a programme of exciting events going beyond the conventional format of  academic ‘talks’ to other forms such as lecture-performances and installations, which try to actually do performance philosophy, rather than just talking about it.”

What is performance philosophy?

  • The application of philosophy to the analysis of performance
  • The philosophy of performance and/or the performance of philosophy
  • The study of how philosophers and philosophical ideas have been staged in performance or how ideas and images of performance have figured in philosophy
  • The theoretical or practical exploration of philosophy as performance and/or as performative
  • Experiments emerging from the idea that performance is a kind of philosophy or thinking or theorizing in itself

But it could also be much more besides. The ambition of the Performance Philosophy network is to support the interrogation of this ‘more’, to enable researchers to create and question the nature of this open field.

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