Deadline: Tuesday 16 April 2019
Negative affects such as boredom, irritation, nausea, discomfort, sadness, grief, fear, pain, shame, doubt, jealousy and guilt are all-pervasive in contemporary life and culture. Cultural theorist Sianne Ngai contextualizes the “aesthetics of negative emotions” in the political economic situation of advanced capitalism (2005, p. 4). Such “ugly feelings”, she argues, might index larger anxieties and insecurities about one’s place and position. Citing Paolo Virno, Ngai suggests that such ‘affective attitudes and dispositions’ have actually become functional, central to the smooth functioning of ‘the economic system which they originally came in to being to oppose’, translating themselves into positive qualities of ‘flexibility, adaptability, and a readiness to reconfigure oneself’ (ibid.). As long as there have been bodies, bodies have felt bad. Scholars such as Elaine Scarry and Drew Leder have foregrounded the experience of pain as central to the experience of the body; as Drew Leder argues, it is often only through dysfunction that the body itself appears to consciousness (1990, 76). Decades before, Jean-Paul Sartre centred one of the most unpleasant and self-shattering bodily feelings, nausea, as a key term in his existentialist philosophy (1938). The centrality of bodies in performance prompts a new understanding of bad feelings and negative affects. Performance’s ability to represent, embody, or provoke bad feelings intervenes in the way they participate in wider political or economic situations. Conversely, attention to negative affects draw attention to the way the effects of exploitation and poor labour conditions (such as injury) can be concealed/revealed by the aesthetics of theatre and performance. Expectations around the performance (or concealment) of negative affects are also structured by ideas of difference, including race, gender, sexuality, disability and class. Certain bodies are culturally constructed by expectations to perform, suffering or pain, as Saidiya Hartman argues. Conversely, as contemporary commentary around race in the popular media demonstrates, talking about such structural inequalities itself provokes negative affects of discomfort, shame, and embarrassment. We invite proposals for traditional papers, practice research demonstrations, workshops or other forms of presentation as appropriate to your project. Possible topics may include but are not limited to:
Please note: only one proposal may be submitted for a TaPRA event. It is not permitted to submit multiple proposals or submit the same proposal to several Calls for Participation. All presenters must be TaPRA members, i.e. registered for the event; this includes presentations given by Skype or other media broadcast even where the presenter may not physically attend the event venue.