Theories of Performance / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Rent from
(Save 74%)
Est. Return Date: 07/06/2015
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $50.53
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 32%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (11) from $50.53   
  • New (5) from $54.62   
  • Used (6) from $50.53   


Theories of Performance invites students to explore the possibilities of performance for creating, knowing, and staking claims to the world. Each chapter surveys, explains, and illustrates classic, modern, and postmodern theories that answer the questions, "What is performance?" "Why do people perform?" and "How does performance constitute our social and political worlds?" The chapters feature performance as the entry point for understanding texts, drama, culture, social roles, identity, resistance, and technologies.

Written specifically for the undergraduate classroom, performance theories are explained in ways accessible to students, relevant to their lives, and richly illustrated with examples that encourage students to think more, to think harder, and to think differently about performances around them. Each chapter engages theory
---as shifting and always political answers to "What?" "Why?" and "How?" questions;
---as an ongoing history of knowledge production about selves, language, aesthetics, and power; and
---as foundational to understanding performance as constitutive, epistemological, and critical endeavors.
Each chapter ends by asking students to "rethink" these theories in light of criticisms, historical shifts, and new insights.

Theories of Performance draws from scholarship in Communication Studies. From mundane to monumental moments in daily life, communication and performance intersect as invitations and challenges to embody, participate, and interact to create, maintain, and transform the world around us. Each chapter engages performance and communication
---through theoretical links between poeticsand rhetoric, drama and life, social roles and identity, play and ritual, self and other; technology and embodiment;
---through the academic traditions of expression, oral interpretation, and performance of literature to contemporary theories and practices of textuality, performativity, and technology; and
---through connections to areas of Communication, drawing from scholarship in rhetoric, interpersonal communication, organizational communication, health communication, intercultural communication, gender studies, queer theory, mass communication, and media studies.
Each chapter features an engaging application of theory, "Theory Meets World," written by a Communication scholar.

Theories of Performance incorporates a variety of pedagogical strategies to encourage students to demonstrate, apply, extend, and share their discoveries about theory. Each chapter provides student-centered exercises, activities, and prompts, including
---"Make a List"--an invitation to make a list (performances, films, roles, rites, websites, resistance strategies). When students generate their own examples, theoretical concepts are suddenly relevant.
---"Act Out" --a prompt to create performance work that demonstrates understanding of theoretical concepts and issues.
---"Caught Looking"--a call to explore examples from film, television, advertising, and the Internet that engages critical skills of application, analysis, and evaluation.
---"Go Figure"--an opportunity to ponder (in discussions, debates, and in writing) a question, situation, or concept raised by theoretical claims.
---"Read More About It"--an excerpt from a published work that illustrates relevant theoretical concepts. These excerpts, from fiction, non-fiction, poetry, newspapers, magazines, and web-based work, animate theoretical concepts in revealing ways.

From Aristotelian tragedy to on-line avatars, Dramatism to performativity, cultural performance to public protest, canon wars to virtual reality, Theories of Performance brings classic, modern, and postmodern theories to life in the classroom.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Caren Neile
Beautifully designed for an undergraduate audience in both content and layout.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412926386
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 2/11/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 452,877
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Bell (Ph.D., University of Texas, 1983) has taught Performance Studies for thirty years in three departments of communication (University of Texas at Austin, University of North Carolina, and University of South Florida). Her graduate courses include Performance Theory, Feminism and Performance, Texts in Performance, and Performance of Nonfiction; undergraduate offerings are Oral Tradition (a theory-based, large lecture class), performance classes in literary genres (poetry, prose fiction, poetic drama), and group performance. She is the co-editor of From Mouse to Mermaid: The Politics of Film, Gender, and Culture (Indiana 1995).

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introducing Theories of Performance
Theory in Perspective: Can You See the Forest for the Trees?
What Is Theory?
Theory Questions: What? Why? How?
Kinds of Theory Questions
Assumptions about How Language Operates in Theory
Two Models of Communication
Performance as a Communicative Form
Assumptions about Performance: Mimesis, Poiesis, and Kinesis
Performance as a Key Term
Definitions of Performance
Claims about Performance: Constitutive, Epistemic, and Critical
Rethinking Theory and Performance
Chapter 2: Constituting Performance
Theory in Perspective: What Makes a Performance?
The "Nature" of Performance
Constituting Performance through Framing
Constituting the Performance Frame through Keying
Constituting Performance through the Performer
Constituting Performance through Audience
Rethinking Performance
Chapter 3: Performing Texts
Theory in Perspective: What Is a Text?
Humans and Symbol Use: Text Me Later. OK?
From Orality to the Page to the Screen
Interpreting the World as "Text "
When Text Meets Performance
Drama, Script, Theater, and Performance
Assumptions about Texts: Canon, Textuality, and Materiality
Interpreting Texts
Text Versus Performance
Rethinking Texts
Chapter 4: Performing Drama
Theory in Perspective: How Is the World a Stage?
The Drama of a Roller Coaster Ride
Reigning Metaphor: Life as Drama
What Is Aristotelian Drama?
Audience and Dramatic Form
Kenneth Burke's Dramatism: Life Is Drama
Performing Tragic and Comic Attitudes
From Dramatism to Social Drama
Analyzing Social Dramas
Social Drama: Raw Material for Performances
Rethinking Drama
Chapter 5: Performing Culture
Theory in Perspective: How Do Cultures Perform?
What Is Culture?
Approaches to Studying Culture
From Studying "Man" to Theorizing Movement and Play
Rites of Passage: Moving through Culture
Homo Ludens/Playing Man
Characteristics of Ritual
Rituals Are Performed
From Great Tradition to Cultural Performance
The "Performance Turn" in Study of Culture
Performing History
Performing Others
Rethinking Culture
Chapter 6: Performing Social Roles
Theory in Perspective: Who Am I?
Don't Play Games with Me!
"What's Wrong? "
"What's Right? "
Teams: Performing Together
Regions: Performing Spaces
When Good Performances Go Bad
Impression Management
Role Distance and Discrepant Roles
Stigmas and "Spoiled" Identities
Passing Genders and Races
Performing Disability
Rethinking Social Roles
Chapter 7: Performing Identity
Theory in Perspective: How Am I a Subject?
Do Social Roles Assume a Foundational Self?
Performativity's Rejections and Projects
Performativity Project 1: Identity Constitution as Material and Historical
Performativity Project 2: A Strategy for Identity Critique
From Philosophy to Speech Act to Laws
Performativity Project 3: A Political Practice of Identity
Rethinking Identity
Chapter 8: Performing Resistance
Chapter 8: Performing Resistance
Theory in Perspective: How Can Performance Change the World?
From Aristotle to Postmodernism
Bertolt Brecht on Performing Resistance
Alienation Effects of Epic Theater
Brechtian Techniques as Critical Lenses
From Brecht to Boal
Why Do People Take to the Streets? Models of Protest
Public Events through an Aristotelian Lens
Carnival and Protest
From Traditional to Radical Dramaturgy
Analyzing Protest Events as Performances
The Body Politic: How Do Bodies Intervene?
Resistance in Everyday Life: Foucault's Productive Power
Resistance in Everyday Life: de Certeau's Strategies and Tactics
Rethinking Resistance
Chapter 9: Performing Technologies
Chapter 9: Performing Technology
Theory in Perspective: What Exists?
Caveat Emptor: Buyer Beware of Old and New
What Is Technology? Extending Human Bodies and Powers
From Deus ex Machina to Flash Mobs: Extending, Enabling, and Accessing Performance
Performance Presence: An Ontology
Six Types of Theatrical Presence
Losing the Aura of Presence
Simulacra: There Is No Original
Cyborg Bodies: Human and Machine
Performing Cyborgs
Musical Performance: Is it Live or Is It Memorex?
Interactivity: From "Poke and See," Cyberpoetry, to Computer Art Environments
Reach Out and Perform Someone: Five Kinds of Mediated Presence
Rethinking Technologies

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)