Questions

Fuss

~The author suggests having students do theory as an essential element of teaching them about it. But when students do theory, what is the motivation? Are they actually trying to explain the world? Or are they trying to sound unique so they get a good grade and feel important? How can you tell? How can you encourage the former and not the latter?

“While resistance makes good politics, it does not always make effective pedagogy. Good teaching requires fluency with a range of techniques including elaboration, evaluation, clarification, amplification, explication, imagination and collaboration” (165). I really like this quote because, at the risk of launching us into a rabbit hole, I’m gonna’ say that our country is politically divided right now. And both sides, if we simplify them to a binary opposition, often seem to position themselves as resisting the disastrous ruin, ignorance, impracticability, or immorality of the other side. So what would it look like if we approached politics, and life (because the two have become very enmeshed) how Fuss suggests we approach teaching? What if we used the tool set of “elaboration, evaluation, clarification, amplification, explication, imagination and collaboration” (especially the last two) more than “resistance”? Is it just a good idea for pedagogy, or would this also have a positive effect on human social relationships?

 

Christian

~1. What is the relationship between the pleasure of artistic language and the work of theory or criticism? Is it necessary that the aesthetics of these forms differ? When and how does criticism elucidate the artwork and when does it kill it?

2. “for whom are we doing what we are doing when we do literary theory” (p. 61). Still an excellent question. 

So this was written in 1987. What would the author be writing today? Is theory more inclusive? Does that make it better? Or does “theory” necessarily negate the poetic and artistic qualities of the works it explores? Have new theories and theoretical models become equally restrictive even as they try and deconstruct more hegemonies and power structures and take multiple positionalities into consideration?

  

3. ’Amen to the struggle with theory vs. the work of art, to some extent anyway.

Sensuality of language and experience vs. precision of discourse and thinking?

“writing disappears unless there’s a response to it” and theatre too.” p. 62 I’m very interested in this. There are a lot of arenas of artists who don’t understand the necessity of criticism. The puppeteers I write about in India understandably see writing about their work as unimportant. What they want is for me to bring them to the US to perform. That’s not something I can do, but I like to think that my writing is making another kind of contribution. And also providing perspective and discussion on the art. If all you can say about Indian puppetry is “it’s a dying art,” which is what people commonly say about it in India, then there is no further discussion. Changing the discourse on this art is important. It can show you there is something worth looking at and talking about. Performance traditions survive/thrive when there is a community of people knowledgeable in the art who care to discuss it and think about what’s good or interesting. (Creating students of the art is one important way performance traditions survive.)

 

Miyoshi and Harootunian

~How do we make area studies not focused narrow-mindedly on funding while all the while receiving the funding necessary to work and live?

 

Bourdaghs (“Ghosts of Anti-Communism and Neo-Liberalism”)

~1. What is the link discussed about the crisis in Area Studies with the crisis in Humanities? What more can we say about these crises and their response to current cultural context?

I wrote this question in my notes, “Where is at least the appearance of humanist interest in scholarship? Is there a history of this in Asia?”

2.I like that this article seems to be taking a view that shows the areas of conflict and struggle that Area Studies scholars in the past had to figure out and negotiate rather than just disparaging the earlier scholars and the idea of area studies in full. It is easy to be critical from a distance, but each generation is caught in negotiating its own conflicts and terrains of politics, culture, criticism and discourse.

3. How to teach “Asian theatre”? How to describe the boundaries of that subject? What new angles to get at this topic, other than divisions by country?How useful are they? This also makes me want to go back and look again at the Routledge Asian Theatre Handbook that I just reviewed. Some chapters on different countries seem to be revealing similar patterns of theatrical development. Do they need to be separated by country? Does that new book seem to still replicate the Area Studies model? What models should replace it?

 

PS Intro

~What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of performance studies having no nailed-down identity and resisting any call to unity as a field?

“A chasm has opened separating scholars from those they write about” (5) I think I personally perceive this chasm in the fact that, while I am a scholar, I am an artist first, and the highly theoretical and academic nature of the language in many of the readings for this workshop is quite a challenge for me. I would say that in the face of densely theoretical writing like that found in many of the readings for this seminar, most of the theatre practitioners I know would give up instantly. So what does that mean for relationships between scholars and practitioners?

 

Austin

~How might Austin’s ideas on how language operates illuminate the performative nature of language in the noh theatre and other traditions in Japan that relate, even obliquely or directly, to ritual action? Can it help us to understand how a form might be ritualistic and might be dramatic?

 

S. Jackson

~Are you an artist or an academic and why? How did you choose? Is it fair to say that you are one and not the other? If you could, would you be both?

“No one falls neatly into any kind of good guy/bad guy opposition” (25) This statement describes the kind of theatre I like. I am a little concerned that this is a surprise and even needs to be stated and argued. Why, as academics, would we look for bad guys? If we critique global power relationships based on militarism and other-ing, why would we ever other or vilifying other academic disciplines? Doesn’t the never-ending contest to position oneself as the “good guy” and someone else as the “bad guy” lead to bickering and entrenched division rather than harmony and progress?

1. Very curious to think about how the developmental issues described here, in 2009 are playing out today in academia in the move towards business models. How would this genealogy need to be updated today? Arts across the curriculum or Reacting to the Past as ways colleges are using theatre to “sell” or invigorate other disciplines. And, conversely, supporting arts as ways to attract donors. Prioritizing performance over criticism.

2. “each of us serves as an amateur to someone else’s professional” p. 28

This is an interesting idea to think about. So many things we are called on to do as academics in theatre where we are never fully an expert in any.

Having just been Chair of my department for 3 years, this article gave me way too many things to consider and think through about the changing models of the university. Filling out the picture of this genealogy, the development of different models of universities and especially about the relationship of theatre within the university was very helpful.

“Liminality become a routine way of invoking dissent status while dissavowing an increasingly professionalized one.” p. 30

3. It really does make you question what the goal of the university education is overall.

 

 

Taylor

~Does the way that performance studies generates knowledge continue to privilege the archive over the repertoire?

~How much personal history deserves a presence in critical writing? I think this is explaining to me the field of performance studies in a way that is not just about the multiplicity of objects it studies, or its heavy reliance on theory and anthropology, but more in terms of terrains of questions.

 

 

Foucault

~Please excuse the self-indulgence, but there is something about excavating my own history of having read Foucault as a grad student almost 20 years ago now (under the unwavering tutelage of Atsuko Ueda) and then reading it again this week. I come to it from a very different place, not the least of which a better chance at understanding the German terms utilized by Nietzsche—including seeing how Foucauldian genealogy relates to Ursprung as origins or roots (but with more action implied, a springing forth maybe?) but also Geburt for giving birth to, bringing life. Here I am reminded of how many articles so far have defined performance as the bringing forth, the giving life or being to something. Never saw this connection before.

My question is really for myself, but I would like to share with you all. Why am I so profoundly willing to cite Foucault for how he describes history as not some clear essence but as fabricated, but then when he starts talking about the body I have a great desire to challenge him, to push further? Here is another sticking point for where I live in my interdisciplinary embodiment, how do historians and those who theorize history reconcile their work with the body and embodiment?

Although I can see the progression here in our readings, I wonder why read this text from Foucault and not something more specifically on how he discusses bio-governmentality or other issues related more directly to the body and potentially then to performance or at least to excavating traces of embodied histories?

 

~Confession— glad to finally read this. The concept of genealogy is actually not as complex as I imagined. It seems to stand in for a dynamic and critical history. I like the idea that it takes nothing as a constant “not even man.” Perhaps the work I want to do on puppetry in Japan is a genealogy of it so that we have a better understanding of the different forms there, how bunraku came to be the most representative and important and the dynamic that created bunraku and its central position and that then changed other forms because of the high status accorded bunraku. The story or geneolgy of Japanese puppetry seems to be all about negotiations of class and gender.

 

“The body is an inscribed surface of events.” p.148. How might this apply to puppet bodies? Are they inscribed with the lineage of their practices and uses? Is history inscribed in them. How does operating puppets bring the past back to life in the present?

 

Suzuki

~I first encountered Suzuki working with theatre specialist David Goodman (rest his soul—he always said he wanted students to remember his teaching 25 years later), and I longed to participate in some of the workshops we watched recorded on film. I wondered then why Goodman did not make use move more—we would act out scenes from plays, but we did not try specific techniques, including the kind of grounding, squatting, stomping movements that seem to typify the Suzuki Method.

But coming back to Goodman, he would have raised Suzuki as a counter example to the kind of Foucauldian theories that were becoming too faddish. In fact, I was once disciplined and punished for using the term “episteme” in his Japanese theatre course. So what is the connection here between Foucault and Suzuki? Suzuki’s genealogical approach suggests that there is maybe some primordial, primeval self or even dare I say “Japanesenness” found in the movements of the lower body. So would Suzuki see the fabricated nature of this history?

And yet, without giving in to any essentializing impulses, I too am drawn to his discussion of spirits on stage, even the illusion of spirits—although his citing of Shinobu Origuchi as an expert suggests that he believes in the reality of this illusion. When I stomp my foot on stage, I want to believe that the gods are awakened and hear me.

 

~I have heard Suzuki speak on similar themes.

I am interested in what he says that the actors can conjure up the spirits form the earth underneath through stomping and take their energy. Also interesting that theatre were build on spots associated with spirits or burials.

“The actor’s animal energy”. How might all this relate to puppetry – the object that performs but does not have “animal energy”? Or does it get it from the actor? Or does materiality, like wood, have its own spirit? Wood energy? And give it to the performer? Puppets are certainly used for confusing up spirits, but not necessarily through the earth or by stomping. But the kuruma ningyo puppets can stomp. And many puppets in copying other forms do do stomping actions, even if they are not connected to the earth.

 

Yoda

~How does this analysis, written in the year 2000, hold up 17 years later? What has happened to the trends Yoda identified?

~What a jump from Suzuki, where I was stomping to the gods, then to Yoda where gods themselves may only be configured as consumers in a neoliberal millennial world!Ihave read this article with students before, but I want to talk more about how others are understanding neoliberalism at the site of cultural practices and performances, not simply reform policiesor over neonationalism or Abe-nomics, but how are neoliberal values structuring meaningat the level of cultural actions?

 

Barthes

~“What is condemned by the audience is not the transgression of insipid rules, but the lack of revenge.” I did’t completely understand what he meant by this and felt it deserved some further thought.