Intersections 2017

“Performing Reference(s)/Referencing Performance(s)”

Call for Papers:

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’s annual Intersections Conference will be held on Thursday the 19th and Friday the 20th of January 2017. Led by the Research Degrees community at Central, Intersections seeks to engage with current theoretical and conceptual discourses in performance research, not only to highlight the diverse research interests at Central, but also to host a range of national and international scholars from a variety of backgrounds and institutions, addressing points of intersection between disciplines, fields and modes of research. Panels are composed of researchers whose papers may potentially speak to each other not within the confines of perceived fields of performance (as defined by genres of performance, for example), but through concepts, concerns and issues which may be common to a wide range of researchers in performance, including crossing boundaries between practice-as-research and so-called ‘conventional’ research.

The postgraduate community at Central invites proposals for papers, panels, provocations and performative lectures. The theme of this year’s conference is “Performing Reference(s)/Referencing Performance(s)”.

reference [mass noun] Pronunciation: /ˈrɛf(ə)r(ə)ns/; [Late Middle English: from Old French referer or Latin referre ‘carry back’, from re- ‘back’ + ferre ‘bring’]; (see also referee, referent, referral, referendum)

  1. The action of mentioning or alluding to something:

1.1 [count noun] A mention or citation of a  source of information in a book or an article.

1.2 [count noun] A source of information cited in a book or an article.

  1. The use of a source of information in order to ascertain something: popular works of reference [as modifier]: a reference work.
  2. The sending of a matter to an authority for decision or consideration.

Acts of reference are unavoidable in creative and critical practice and in everyday life. Performance and performativity, in language and in art, rely on reference and upon citation, and necessarily appeal to pre-existing contexts and established authorities in the movement between innovation and convention. Referencing can be a mode of documentation, adaptation and archiving, as well as a means of giving shape to history, oneself and others. Each reference re-casts the past into a possible future, shifting frames of reference until new knowledge and experience emerge out of the old. To make a reference is to look back in order to move forward, sideways and in all directions. It is a gesture by which some sources, practices, ideas and people are retrieved and others left behind, some links reinforced and some cast back.

To reference, to be referenced, to be a reference, runs through the practices of academics and performance makers. What, then, does it mean to reference — to refer to — performance? And in what ways might performance reference, refer to, us? This conference aims to provide a space in which to consider these practices and to understand how our works reference, are referenced, and are themselves references.

Submitted abstracts can address, but are not limited to, such questions as:

  • How might references situate people, performances and texts in specific social, cultural and political milieus?
  • How do references function in the construction of identity? What is at stake in the possibility of such references being misapplied or misattributed, in getting or not getting the reference?
  • What constitutes reference material? Are there any right or wrong, correct or incorrect references to be made?
  • Is there a hierarchy in source materials and reference works, and are there some things that cannot or should not be referenced?
  • How might we consider referencing as an embodied practice? What references are made at the level of the body and what pleasures and pains are associated with these references?
  • What might it mean for performance to reference us, as an audience? Can we consider the ways in which the tone or mode of address of a performance may be said to reference its audience, to bring in, and (potentially) politically constitute us?
  • What is the relation today between radical aesthetics and practices of ‘self-referentiality’ in performance work? How does the ‘self-referential’ function in the context of postmodern performance practices? Brecht emphasized the self-referential through the revelation of the theatre machine in his practice but in postmodern practices, is the self-referential radical in the same way as it was in Brecht’s time?
  • What form do references take in your research methodology as an artist/scholar and what function do they perform? Does your work re-iterate, re-read, re-write, misread, re-contextualize, crip, queer, tailor, adapt, or appropriate its sources?
  • What are some of the pitfalls of referring to performance in a written document (and referring to a written document in performance) and what new opportunities does the practice of re-writing performance afford?


  • What are the ethics of reference in relation to different understandings of intellectual property, fair use, open source, creative commons, and the public domain, and in light of concepts such as cultural appropriation?
  • How do concepts of originality, derivation and authorship in performance practice and research change in light of postmodern theories of inter and hyper textuality, and in light of the increasing opportunities new technologies afford to sample, re-mix, salvage, scavenge and plunder found source materials?
  • What do the references we make in our daily lives about our research and our practices tell us about our research, and the way in which we do it? What do the languages with which we refer to our research, and our practice, illuminate about our work?

There will be two keynote speakers – Prof. Julie Sanders (Newcastle University) and Simon Sladen (Victoria and Albert Museum) – on the 19th and 20th respectively, followed by respondents from RCSSD and panel presentations.

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is Tuesday, 15th of November 2016, by midnight. In order to submit your proposal, please visit our website,

Presentations will be allocated 20 minutes of speaking time and 10 minutes of questions. All presenters will have access to PowerPoint, and any further technical requirements should be specified in the candidate’s abstract.

We also accept proposals for whole panels. In order to submit your proposed panels, please submit your abstracts individually, and then send us an email with the titles of participating papers, and a ~300-word panel rationale.

If you have any questions regarding Intersections, please contact us at


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