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2020 Mellon Summer Session : "New Frontiers of Theater and Performance Research"

08/06/2020 - 19/06/2020
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The Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research at Harvard University is pleased to announce that we are accepting applications for our 2020 summer session, to be held June 8-19, 2020. The School offers faculty and advanced graduate students the opportunity to learn from leading scholars in theater and performance research in an intensive two-week summer program. Please forward this announcement widely to interested colleagues.

The topic for the 2020 session is "New Frontiers of Theater and Performance Research."

The 2020 Mellon Summer Session will examine new movements in theater and performance research in the context of changes that are emerging in the humanities more broadly. 1. A quantitative turn. Just as the social sciences underwent a quantitative turn in the late nineteenth century, so too there is talk of a quantitative turn in the humanities, based on the existence of databases and datasets that can, for the first time, be studied quantitatively. How do these approaches add to existing methods in performance research? 2. Activism. There has always existed an activist dimension in humanities scholarship, but in the last few years, this dimension has come to the fore again, especially around climate change, inequality, gender, and race. What forms does performance-based activism take today, and how are they related to research and teaching in our fields? 3. Post-Critique. A third group seeks to orient our analytic habits away from “critique,” understood primarily as a mode of scholarship that seeks to identify moments of oppression and subversion in works of art and performance. What are the proposed alternatives to critique? Or should we revive critique and adapt it to new purposes? 4. Public Humanities. A fourth movement responds to the sense that we have lost our public. If we want to win back public backing for what we do, we need a strand of scholarship that is oriented outwards. What are the approaches that are most promising? And how would they inform specialized research?

While these four movements--and others that might emerge as important during the session--concern all the humanities, we will focus on how they impact the study of theater, dance, and performance and related disciplines. This intensive two-week session is meant to be an incubator for new ideas.

Our distinguished 2020 faculty includes

Shamell Bell (Darmouth College)
Elizabeth Dillon (Northeastern University)
Rita Felski (University of Virginia)
Derek Miller (Harvard University)
Noe Montez (Tufts University)
Carrie Preston (Boston University)
Martin Puchner (Harvard University)
Namwali Serpell (University of California, Berkeley)
Andrew Sofer (Boston College)

Participants will take one of two daily seminars on overarching theoretical and methodological topics related to the theme. In addition to the seminars, the program includes discussions, workshops, performances, and lectures taught by visiting faculty. Graduate student participants take part in a writing workshop devoted to their dissertation research; faculty participants take part in a workshop focused on monographs and publications.

Due to a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation, tuition will be free for all accepted participants.

Applications are due on March 2, 2020. A complete application consists of an application form, a CV, a cover letter, and a dissertation prospectus or description of current research. Admissions decisions will be announced in mid-late March. Please see our application page for instructions and frequently asked questions.

For more information, please visit our website at mellonschool.fas.harvard.edu or email thschool@fas.harvard.edu.