Call: 21st-century shifts in Spectatorship and Audience Research – Performance Matters special issue


Performance Matters Special Issue on 21st-century shifts in Spectatorship and Audience Research

Submission deadline: January 31, 2018

We are inviting contributions for an upcoming special issue of Performance Matters that will explore whether and how the rapid emergence and persistence of new media and technologies shifts how we conceive of and learn about spectatorship. We are interested in how the context of being a spectator may have changed spectatorship itself in the 21st century.


We are seeking proposals for articles that will be between 7000-9000 words in length. It is important to us that this issue reflects different modalities of spectatorship and we are therefore particularly interested in articles that address non-theatrical performance. Topics of interest include (but are not limited to) the following questions:

  • Is the Rancierian (2009) epoch upon us? If so, how are artistic ‘masters’ surrendering their authority and who are the spectators being emancipated (or erased)? Do prosumers ultimately strip performance culture of its expertise and finesse?
  • How do we newly perceive and engage; how do we (or indeed do we at all) delimit the actions that constitute spectatorship in contemporary culture?
  • Following Maaike Bleeker and Isis Germano (2014), does the theatrical event offer a model for understanding the roles and responsibilities of spectators in an always-performing staged world? What are the pragmatics and ethics of watching?
  • How do we come to understand the diverse groups of individuals we call an audience? What research methodologies allow us to engage with them accurately and ethically?
  • Which audiences continue to be marginalized? How might their increased presence shift our conception of spectatorship? How do ‘prosumers’ negotiate accessibility?
  • Following on Adrian Athique’s 2016 study on the ways in which technology breaks down national barriers, how can performance serve to construct a transnational audience?
  • Do emergent technologies complicate the unique claims on liveness in performance reception? What avenues might this open in inter-disciplinary research? How might spectators perceive differently in the future in light of these developing technologies?
  • How do the ethos and legalities of remix culture manifest in analog or live spaces like the classroom (Jenkins et al 2013) or on the street with murals and installations, which Nicholas Bourriaud helpfully grouped among his formulation of ‘postproduction’ art (2005)?
  • What are the dramaturgies of theatre with participant-spectators? How do artists negotiate the ethical and political implications of what might be considered audience-labour?

Proposals should be a maximum of 500 words, not including any footnotes or works cited. Please also include a brief, maximum 150 word, biography.


As a project in exploring and modeling methodologies in audience research, we invite scholars to share their documents, scripts, and accounts of unique spectatorship experiences. We imagine that these will be diverse in presentation, and may include first-hand reportage on a performance event as well as video or photographic documentation, audience interviews, or other outputs. Photo and/or video essays, amalgamating theorization with documentation would be prized. We also welcome short scripts or scenarios for already-performed pieces that re-imagine the role of the spectator, particularly if the performance cannot be represented by a traditional play.

Proposals should be a maximum of 300 words, not including any footnotes or works cited. Please also include a brief, maximum 150 word, biography.


If you are an author with a book on spectatorship that will be published between September 2018 and April 2019, and would like us to consider it for review, please be in touch. In a brief letter, outline what your book explores and let us know both who is publishing the book and when you expect it to be available. Relatedly, if you are a scholar who works on spectatorship and would like to be a book reviewer, please send us a brief letter outlining your area of expertise as an audience researcher so that we can match you with a book that we have available.


Please send proposals to by midnight on January 31, 2018. You may also direct inquiries, at any time, to this email address.


Athique, Adrian. Transnational Audiences: Media Reception on a Global Scale. Polity Press, 2016.

Bleeker, M. & Germano, I. “Perceiving and Believing: An Enactive Approach to Spectatorship.” Theatre Journal, vol. 66, no. 3, 2014, pp. 363-383.

Bourriaud, Nicholas. Postproduction: Culture as Screenplay – How Art Reprograms the World. Ram Publications, 2005.

Jenkins, Henry and Wyn Kelley, editors. Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby Dick in the English Classroom. Teachers College Press, 2013.

Keltie, Emma. The Culture Industry and Participatory Audiences. Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

Rancière, Jacques, and Gregory Elliott. The Emancipated Spectator. Verso, 2009.


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