Towards Performative Pirouettes? Reconsidering the Interrelationship Between Cultural Sociology and Theatrical Production

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 4:15 PM
Room: 304
Distributed Paper
Denis HÄNZI , Institut für Soziologie, TU Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany
Attempts to understand the "real" world drawing on theatre metaphors have a long tradition. Not only Goffman's Presentation of Self in Everyday Life opened respective lines of sight, already Calderón's Gran Teatro del Mundo implied this nexus. Again, the question of good or bad "performance" seems to be crucial in our late capitalist days: be it on the stock exchange, be it in TV-casting-shows or the context of resource allocation in the academic field. But what do we know about the reciprocal relationship of the performing arts and theories of performativity, as they experience a real boom in the wake of the performative turn?

In this presentation, it is assumed that the theatrical art world is a universe of discourse and practice par excellence not only allowing to observe performative phenomena and develop new theoretical approaches to performativity – but especially to shed light on the interrelationship between scientific paradigm shifts and changes regarding the fight for recognition within the field of performing arts. As will be shown, the performative turn in theater studies and sociology of art is attended by transformations of theatrical creation. Thus, the paper aims at discerning in what way this interrelation fosters a new logic of artistic recognition. Within the framework of the latter, it headmost is the mastery of "performative pirouettes" that will be awarded: Artists more and more have to assert themselves as virtuosos of a somehow "reflexive" performativity.

In order to go to the bottom of this phenomenon, two theoretical reconsiderations will be proposed: First, referring to Michel Foucault, it will be argued that one can speak of a "discursive explosion" around and apropos "performativity" within the theatrical art world, producing new forms of artistic mysteriousness. Second, drawing on Max Weber, this latter proposition will be linked to a charisma-theoretical model of artistic performativity.