Call For Proposals

Beyond the Institution: Theatre, Performance, and the University

Graduate students, scholars, and practitioners of theatre and performance in and surrounding the New York City area are pleased to announce a collaboratively-organized conference held October 31 – November 1 2013, which will assemble an inter-university exchange to encourage questions, dialogue, and debate around and between the boundaries of theatre, performance, and academic institutions. It will question institutional borders that separate artistic, scholarly, educational, activist, and civic pursuits, making way for new modes of cooperation and coalition. How can art, theatre, and performance affect the urban space in the wake of social, cultural, and technological transformation? What is the role of the university in the city? Can the city serve as a bridge between artistic and civic institutions? How do scholarship and practice interact with the venues, archives, architecture, and living fabric of urban spaces? Where do we meet and how do we come together outside the walls of the institution?

In bridging both institutional and theoretical/practical divides, this conference aims to connect diverse communities, to spotlight the concerns and interests of the upcoming generation of scholars and artists, and to consider the viability and future cultural life in, around, and beyond New York City—a region that has undergone massive economic, demographic, and environmental transformations in the past two decades. This will be a chance for graduate students in MA, MFA, PhD, and DFA programs in theatre, performance, and related disciplines to come together in a unique environment at a specific moment in the history of the US university, asking urgent questions about the future of theatre, performance, the university, and the city.

Possible topics could include:

  • Politics and activism
    Performance and protest
    Theatre, public space, markets, and real estate
    Performance as commodity
    The commercial and the avant-garde
    Green and interdisciplinary performance venues and architecture
    Academe and the performance of legitimacy/prestige
    Theory/practice divides in the performing arts
    Practice as research, research as practice
    The state of the field(s)
    Civic institutional development and self-organizing systems
    Performative intersections of diverse communities
    New media and live performance
    Open access spaces and urban free trade
    Self and digital publication
    Theory and philosophy of performance
    The role of the graduate student
    Collaborative research and writing
    Questioning methodologies and expertise

Interested participants are encouraged to submit proposals for papers, panels, roundtables, performances, work demonstrations, and/or other innovative platforms that explore institutional construction, potentials, and limits of artistic interaction with the city and the academy. The format of the conference and its sessions is open and will be determined based on the submissions received. Graduate students and emerging artists from diverse institutions, across disciplines, and across the public/private divide are encouraged to apply.

The conference will be located at one or more spaces and institutions involved. Graduate students at any of the state/area colleges surrounding NYC who might be interested in helping to coordinate/co-host the conference are especially encouraged to contact us at

Submit proposals (250 words for individual papers; 500 words for panels, roundtables, performances, and innovative platforms) here by April 19, 2013.

If there any questions, please email us at


To date, a collaboration among graduate students at:
Brooklyn College, CUNY
Columbia University
The Graduate Center, CUNY
Hunter College, CUNY
New York University
Princeton University
Yale School of Drama