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I: Affective movements

Affective leanings in performance

Stacy Holman Jones and Anne Harris

Introduction: leaning in

Most performers know all loo well the experience of standing backstage waiting to go on, and feeling the cold, clammy, where-can-I-run escape fantasy of 'I can’t do this, get me out of here’. The flashing certainty that I might need to use the toilet, that my breath will come loo short and shallow to project any words much less emotions, or the certainty that no one who may be in the audience out there will connect with what I have to offer. That physical contraction of knowing that the harder I fight against the nerves, the more insistent they become; what is sometimes called ‘stage fright’, when described in the language of emotions. But this apprehension, like all affective experience, is grounded in the body. In his ‘Confessions of an Apprehensive Performer’, Ron Pelias (1997) writes of his body:

First, it had the shakes—the hands fluttering, the kneeing knocking, the voice quivering. How can my body act without my intent? ...Then, it was the pounding—the heart racing rhythm to the rapid speech and the breath disappearing in mid-phrase. Now, it goes deaf; it goes blind, (p. 32).

In proximity to an ‘audience’, these embodied experiences can be shared by those of us willing to ‘lean in’ to the precarity and thrill of performance. Leaning in to fear, to improvisation, to the pulsing preacceleration1 (Manning, 2009, p. 13) of the body doing its thing in relation to other bodies. Binaries fall away: no longer are ‘they’ out there while T am inside the blinding light, no longer are they are relaxed while I am tense, no longer are they watching my internal struggle from the outside. What we think of ‘as performance’ is the field of experience and affect passing between and among us, together. The distance between bodies, smells, temperatures, words, movements of the performance, is coloured and set in motion in space. Space, that defining and core component of performance, can be measured in distance, but also in the changing affect between bodies-in-per- formance: forces vibrating, emerging ‘from surfaces, recombining with lines, folding, bridging, knotting’ (Manning, 2009, p. 13). Performance is a coming together that celebrates the ability of bodies to move and be moved through practice and in proximity (Harris & Holman Jones 2018). When we lean on one another, as Manning might put it, performance is an affective negotiation of bodies w'orlding.

Pelias stays with us, using the apprehensive and pulse-racing experience of performance to consider how ‘bodies place themselves in relationship to other bodies’ (2016, p. 9). He writes, ‘When bodies tilt toward each other, they may begin to move in the same rhythm, with the same pulse. They may sense themselves in an empathic encounter, each understanding and feeling with the other’ (2016, p. 9). Through the practice of attunement—the embodied work of tuning in to one another through the occasion of performance—‘presence turns space into place’ and ‘calls for a negotiation of bodies’ (2016, pp. 44, 9). We wonder about the non-binary possibilities of leaning in rather than staying or going, about how bodies are both soothed and stressed by leanings and leanings-in. How might a leaning be/come both an event and also an affective inclination, a moment of connection in which bodies come into contact?

To consider performance as affective inclination is to call attention to performance’s relational force, and to look to affect studies and posthumanism for a language of inclination-as-relation. For example, Rosi Braidotti (2019) asks us to reconsider notions of ‘a’ subject in/of performance as ‘an autonomous capacity’ defined not by ‘rationality, nor our cerebral faculties alone, but rather by the autonomy of affect as a virtual force that gets actualized through relational bonds’ (p. 38). Braidotti also urges a decoupling of affect from

individualized emotions, as meaningful expression of psychological states and lived experiences. Affect needs to be de-psychologized, and to be de-linked from individualism in order to match the complexity of our human and nonhuman relational universe. This relational process supports a thick and dynamic web of interconnections by removing the obstacles of individualism.

(Braidotti, 2019, p. 38)

Similarly, Manning’s writing on movement, in its changing force and direction and becoming elastic in relation to an other body, whether linked by touch or at a distance, turns our attention to performance as ‘relational shape-shifting’ (Manning, 2009, p. 13). Approaching performance as inclination allows us to consider performance as a more-than-human set of relations and the value of performance to creating sustainable ecologies.

If performance is a form of sociality in which ‘some performing bodies appear to be saturated with the terror of precarious life’ (Diamond et ah, 2017, p. 2), affective leanings in performance are a ready lens through which the effects of sexism and misogyny, human exceptionalism, and cultures of terror can be not only seen, but felt and understood in both empathic and embodied ways (Harris & Holman Jones, 2019a, 2019b). In this chapter, we ask how, taken together, performance and affect studies gives posthuman ethics breath and flesh by expanding understandings of matter, discourse and enactment as they move in relational embodiment.2 This chapter also seeks to extend affect scholarship and its ability to reconceptualise the political promise of the collective and spatial relations through the lens of performance.

Affective moves: touching feeling in performance terms

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s Touching Feeling (2003) is foundational to our understanding of affect and/as performance. Her work demonstrates how transdisci- plinary ‘making work’ can alter onto-epistemological formations of meaning, linking thinking-as-doing-theory with making-as-thinking work. For example, in her exploration of shame as affect, Sedgwick draws on the nine ‘categorical’ or independent affects in Sylvan Tompkins’s formulation, concluding the list of affects with:

Shame, it might finally be said, transformational shame, is performance. I mean theatrical performance. Performance interlines shame as more than just its result or a way of warding it off, though importantly it is those things. Shame is the affect that mandes the threshold between introversion and extroversion, between absorption and theatricality, between performativity and— performativity.

(Sedgwick, 2003, p. 38)

Following Tompkins’s argument that ‘shame is the exemplary affect for theory’ (Sedgwick, 2003, p. 115) due to how it ‘floods’ our senses—pinking our cheeks and bowing our heads in the highly social dance of seeking and being denied recognition and affirmation—Sedgwick explores the conjoined and corporeal relationship of affect, individuality and sociality. She writes, ‘That’s the double movement shame makes: toward painful individuation, toward uncontrollable relationality’ (p. 37). This double movement extends affects and their so-called opposites: ‘Without positive affect, there can be no shame ... only something you thought might delight or satisfy can disgust’, in which ‘both these affects produce bodily knowledge’ (p. 116). Bodily knowledge is at the core of performance and, even now, informs the rituals of performance in the digital age. That is, digital cultures and practices have not removed the need for performance but rather show us new ways in which relationally affect is not only possible but essential. Using Sedgwick’s formulation of shame as an occasion for understanding the vibration between (sell) absorption and theatricality, we consider how affects which might be experienced between performers and audiences help map the space between bodies, but also the limits of performance of the outside/inside as relational and embodied event.

Sedgwick pursues non-dualistic thought in her exploration of emotion through theories of affect in a project she terms touching feeling. Ann Cvetkovich (2012) pursues a similar non-binary mode of theorising in her ‘public feelings project’3 on depression. Cvetkovich notes the oft-cited separation between affect as a pre-personal/social force or intensity and emotion as a social understanding or categorisation of how affects assemble and move in/through relationality.4 This tradition follows the work of Gilles Deleuze and others’ critical efforts to expand the vocabulary we have for accounting for emotional and sensory experience embodiment, particularly in psychology and cultural studies. Such projects distinguish ‘between affect and emotion, where the former signals precognitive sensor)' experience and relations to surroundings, and the latter cultural constructs and conscious processes that emerge from them, such as anger, fear, or joy’ (Cvetkovich, 2012, p. 4). Cvetkovich’s own work seeks to offer us a ‘generic’ term and site of inquiry5 dial not only encompasses affect, emotions and feeling, but also

includes impulses, desires, and feelings that gel historically constructed in a range of ways (whether as distinct specific emotions or as a generic category often contrasted with reason)—but with a way recognition that this is like Hying to talk about sex before sexuality.

(Cvetkovich, 2012, p. 4)

Like Sedgwick, Cvetkovich takes feeling as the central focus of her work, and explains that her affection for it comes from its ability to acknowledge ‘the somatic or sensory nature of feelings as experiences that aren’t just cognitive concepts or constructions’ (p. 4). She favours feeling ‘because it is intentionally imprecise, retaining the ambiguity between feelings as embodied sensations and feelings as psychic or cognitive experiences’ (p. 4). Cvetkovich’s affect allows an integration of body and mind (as does much work in performance studies, including that of Dwight Conquergood, 2002 and Jose Esteban Munoz, 2009). Both Sedgwick and Cvetkovich’s projects draw our attention as well as the inseparability and radical relationality of physical, emotional, psychological and experience.

In these considerations of affect, feeling is inextricably tied up with touching, for as Sedgwick notes, the sense of touch ‘makes nonsense out of any dualistic understanding of agency and passivity’ (Sedgwick, 2003, p. 14). We would extend this to performance, in particular the ways performance demands that we lean on and toward one another, making nonsense out of any dualistic understanding of body and emotion, or of audience and performer. Take Sedgwick’s inspiration for writing Touching Feeling, photographer Leon A. Borensztein’s photographs of textile artist Judith Scott and her work. In Sedgwick’s description, Scott leans in and on her large, body-shaped sculptures constructed out of yarn, consumed a moment of ‘haptic absorption’ (Sedgwick, 2003, p. 23). The affect that saturates the touch inspired by leaning in/on becomes multiple and diffuse—a collection of feelings and relations caught up in a ‘transaction of texture’ (p. 22). And while the subject of the photo might be Scott’s relation ‘to her completed work’, the ‘intense presence’ of the photo also includes the viewer’s/audience relation to the many possible feelings embodied in an experience of that touching embrace (p. 22).

Similarly, Cvetkovich (2012) explores her interest in the non-dualistic work affect theory allows us to do in the context of live performance and in particular works in which ‘ordinary activities lake on aesthetic significance through repetition and intentional framing’ (p. 112). The entanglement of the everyday and live performance is a feature of much of the live art made by women beginning in the 1970s and carrying through to today. For (one among many) example, dancer Trisha Brown, whose dance work is remarkable for how it calls attention to beauty and flow of natural, everyday movements. Her Set and Reset (1983), a collaboration with visual artist Robert Rauschenberg and musician Laurie Anderson, uses repetition to investigate the affect of improvisational movement. The piece was ‘made through improvisations that were then remembered, repeated, recorded, perfected, elaborated upon. She wanted to make movement whose impulses remained ‘live in the moment’, bridging, rather than holding separate, movement and structure (Rosenberg, 2016). Brown’s non-dualistic approach created works that affectively collapse the distinction between body and emotion, touch and feeling, audience and performer.

The intensity and texture of Set and Reset is described with strikingly affective terms by New York Times dance critic Alastair Macaulay (2013), who writes, ‘This is a dance whose currents you feel kinaesthetically as you watch; you feel it on your very skin, like running water.’ Brown’s compositions also expand ideas about what constitutes performance space, both by framing non- traditional and unused spaces (rooftops, streets, and domestic spaces) as theatres and by using more than the horizontal plane of the stage (staging works on the sides of buildings and up the walls of galleries). Her Walking on the Wall (1971/2010), in which dancers climbed ladders placed at opposite ends of a gallery, slipped into rope harnesses, and then walked, skipped, and ran along the gallery walls, pushed—and breached—the limits of architectural and stage space (Levin, 1997). This work transformed not only the dancer’s but also the viewer’s understanding of movement, space and performer-audience relations. It required all involved to literally lean into new ways of dancing (including asking audience to move through the space to accommodate and make way for the dancer’s movements) and to share in the everyday ritual of the work (Goldberg, 2015).

This focus on the repetition of daily activities in ways that take on the force and reverence of ritual and the affective connections these performances have to touch and feeling is tied to the work of another non-dualistic affect scholar, Kathleen Stewart. Writing on ‘ordinary affects’ and how a politics might be sparked by an everyday encounter, Stewart (2007) suggests the language of performance is 'the ordinary affect in the textured, roughened surface of the everyday. It permeates politics of all kinds with the demand that some kind of intimate public of onlookers recognize something in a space of shared impact’ (p. 39).

She goes on to say that 'People might be touched by it, or hardened to its obnoxious demands ... However it strikes us, its significance jumps’ (Stewart, 2007, p. 39). While Stewart is not writing about theatrical performance, the demand that an intimate public of onlookers instantiates an audience who come together in a ‘space of shared impact’ suggests that the political potential of affect lies in its affective and performative possibilities. We lake up these political possibilities through a consideration of Sarah Ahmed’s concept of sticky affects.

Sticky affects and performance

Elin Diamond (2017) argues that affect theories focus our attention on ‘skin- level intensities’ that pass ‘between and among bodies, human or [more than] human’ (p. 259). Her words conjure Sara Ahmed’s ‘sticky affects’, or what sticks and sustains connections ‘between ideas, values, and objects’ (Ahmed, 2004/ 2012, p. 29). Sticky affects don’t reside ‘in’ us but rather circulate as a ‘form of relationality, or a ‘with-ness’, in which the elements that are ‘with’ get bound together’ (p. 91). Diamond uses the idea of stickiness to focus attention on how ‘affect-rich performance creates sites and events where theory—and stickiness— can happen’ (Diamond, 2017, p. 259). If we think of affect-rich performance as a ‘chain of effects (which are at once affects) ... in circulation’, our focus on leaning shows how we both lean into and away from ‘with-ness’ and how, through these leanings, performance creates a ‘transference of affect’ (Ahmed, 2004/2012, p. 91).

Ahmed writes into the connections of political and everyday performance affects as she considers feminist anger. As a performative ‘against-ness’, the challenge for feminists is achieving ‘up take’ of our anger a legitimate emotion, rather than having it blocked or dismissed by an addressee. An excellent example of feminist anger as ‘against-ness’ that places accepting relationality (in the form of ‘uptake’) at the centre of performance is Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s 2012 Misogyny Speech. In the speech, Gillard addresses the sexist and misogynist remarks made against her directly to Tony Abbott, leader of the opposition party6. She says, in part: ‘I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. And the government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever.’ She goes on to detail the sexist and misogynist statements Abbott made about and toward her—and by extension, the women of Australia—denouncing the ‘double standard’ his criticism and similar statements made by a member of his own party represents. Her performance illustrates the challenge of feminism and feminist anger-against articulated by Ahmed:

The challenge for feminism is to accept that the conditions in which we speak are not of our making. Such a recognition would not signal the futility of naming our anger—but it would mean recognizing that the reception of that act might sustain the conditions that compelled the act in the first place.

(Ahmed, 2004/2012, p. 177)

Gillard’s speech, as Denise Varney (2017) writes, demonstrates the circulation of affect and how standing-against can effectively ‘recirculate’ the ‘the hateful affects directed at Gillard into a resistant and transgressive act’ (p. 25). Varney’s analysis draws on Diamond’s definition of cultural performance as ‘embodied acts, in specific sites, witnessed by others (and/or the watching self)’ (Diamond, 1996/ 2015, p. 1). Varney reminds us that

Among the many performative and affective excitements of the speech and its circulation are the revitalization of the political as cultural performance and the potential of the cultural to be made political in a lived mediated theatre.

(Varney, 2017, fi. 35)

This kind of ‘lived mediated theatre’ is a performance of the everyday that bubbles up into affective events, or leanings. It is at once a workday encounter, a public address, a theatrical soliloquy, and an affective spark that passes between bodies not only in the Parliamentary chamber, but beyond. Gillard’s repetition of 'I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny... Not now, not ever’ is an example of how performativity comes to rest on a performance7 (Diamond, 1996/2015, p. 5): its ‘performative iterability is linked to repetition, to the very fact that signs must be repeatable, and with them, forms of conventions’ (Ahmed, 2004/2012, p. 93). The workings of performativity are grounded in the repetition and recirculation of signs-as-acts in ways that consolidate an orientation or position (a with-ness or against-ness) whilst repeating past associations (p. 195).

Ahmed notes that signs, objects and speech become ‘sticky’ within a ‘history of articulation’ in which repetition accumulates ‘affective value’ in their association with other signs and bodies. She also extends the performativity of emotions as ‘signs’ not only grounded in repetition of past associations, but also that circulate as stickу relations which ‘operate precisely where we don’t register their effects’ (Ahmed, 2004/2012, p. 195).

The ‘stickiness’ of Gillard’s Misogyny Speech is perhaps most evident in the verbatim choral composition Not Now, Not Ever 8 created by composer Rob Davidson and performed by the Australian Voices choir, directed by Gordon Hamilton. After hearing Gillard’s speech, Davidson says he was moved to create the composition because

it struck me that behind the politics there was a lot of personal feeling being communicated. I wanted to put a frame around this slice of time, to heighten my perception of what was being said behind the words, in the intonation of the voice, and in the dynamics of what was being said in interjections and reactions.

(Australian Voices, 2014)

Stickiness depends, then, on relationality, or the ‘shared witnessing’ of the feelings implicit in the performative, which show us how ‘language works as a form of power in which emotions align some bodies with others, as well as stick different figures together, by the way they move us’ (Ahmed, 2004/2012, p. 195).

The Australian Voices performance of Not Now, Not Ever, in which Gillard’s words travel through the voices and bodies of so many other Australians—men and women, young and old, white people and people of colour—demonstrates how anger that was once directed against Tony Abbott and his speech circulates and moves into a ‘bigger critique of‘what is” and in doing so, ‘opens itself up to possibilities that cannot be simply located or found in the present’ (Ahmed, 2004/2012, p. 176). Losing the ‘object’ of Gillard’s anger opens up the affective capacity of a performance ‘to move, or to become a movement’ (p. 176). Thus, the capacity to move and become a movement resides in the unforeclosed nature of live performance, which creates an occasion and space for literally, temporally and spatially leaning in, and as such is a political and relational act.

Both Gillard’s and Australian Voices’ performances create an ‘affect of space’ in which the dualisms of the personal and the political and everyday life and theatre are blurred. As with Braidotti, performance studies scholar D. Soyini Madison (2010) shows how affect moves beyond individualism and into ‘the sense of being transported to a place where you begin to feel the pain of a location—an affect of space’ (p. 126). Performance—as explored and developed through the emplaced, ethnographic encounters at the heart of Madison’s work—is ‘always grounded in a specific “location” and what goes on inside that location, the place of that location becomes a “practiced space’” (p. 126). Through relational engagement—‘experiences, inventions, memories, and desires’—we make place into practised space, an affective, ‘living organism comprised of immeasurable meaning and emotions (Madison, 2010, p. 126).

Madison attends to the political potential of losing the sticky ‘objects’ of our anger offered by leaning into affective understandings of live performance:

where performers and audience members - in a shared temporality - encountered and engaged ‘the dynamic oscillation between corporeality and signification. ’ It was the affect of sentiment, pleasure, displeasure, and emotion conjoined with corporeality and signification that created and enhanced the ... presence that is always already ontologically linked to live performance.

(Madison, 2010, p. 212)

Though how does a global pandemic that has seen the shuttering of venues and the wholesale move of performance to digital spaces transform and transmute the affective possibilities of live performance?

Field attention and posthuman performance

In Performing Proximity, Leslie Hill and Helen Paris ask, ‘How close can you get in performance?’ (Hill & Paris, 2014, p. 81). They query the notion of‘public’ space

(‘often 20 feet away from each other’), blurring this with what is usually considered ‘Personal space...the space in everyday life where unwanted contact can feel inappropriate’ in the context of close-up, immersive theatre (p. 81). They note

the unwanted ‘in-your-face’ closeness of the subway in rush hour or in a tightly packed lift ... ‘improper’ closeness from which, in everyday life, we perform escape strategies. The interaction between performer and audience member ... is different; there is an entreaty, a desire and an expectation. There is something at stake. The audience is asked to meet the gaze of the performer and to allow themselves to be touched, asked to participate.

(Hill & Paris, 2014, p. 82)

In the era of social distancing and pandemic performance, affect gives us a language to articulate the performative porosity that ‘exists between ourselves and the world that allows the movement of affect from an environment, a thing or person, into another person’ (Bennett, 2019, p. 110). This porosity of movement from one environment, person and thing into another is playfully illustrated in famed stunt woman Zoe Bell’s Boss Bitch Fight Challenge video,9 which begins with Bell lamenting that due to COVID-19 isolation, she is ‘missing playing with her friends.’ From there, the video explodes into a 5-minute montage of well-known Hollywood women performers and stunt experts battling it out, virtually. The video is fun, full of pop culture film and performance references, and selfconsciously ostentatious—so much so that we might dismiss it as patronising and full of its own privilege. However, to do so would be to miss the physical master)' and razor-sharp choreography required to kick and punch through the static and boredom of isolation. It is also a resounding celebration of affective intensity and vitality. The women in the video are, after Stewart, punched by a force and try to take it on, making themselves its object, and then passing it on.10 Not unlike the entreaty and expectation of live performance, the video creates what Donna Williams has described as resonance, writing, ‘when you resonate with an object or surface it is not so much that you have reached out for that object or surface but that it has, somehow, reached into you’, and you are obliged to respond (Williams, 1998, loc. 603).

In both live and digital contexts then, affective performance invites us to consider what Manning calls ‘the dance of attention. Not human attention, but field attention’ (Manning, 2016, p. 42). Manning explains this as an ‘event’s attention to its own development’, or what is felt as ‘the lived intensity of the event’s capacity to create a field of experience’ (p. 42). Performance encompasses both an anticipator)' gathering of potentialities—bodies leaning in, waiting to be actualised through an unfolding practice—and the traces and reverberations of actions that linger long after the performance is over. These leanings and lingerings—of tone, emotional residue and traces of movement—in turn provoke their own, ‘adjacent forms of experience’ (Manning, 2016, p. 74). It is possible, even necessary then, that through braided practices of speech and embodiment, one may enter into relational performative experiences in a multitude of ways simultaneously, none of which requires ‘fixing’.

The liminality of live and digital performance create what Walter Benjamin has called the threshold, a kind of temporality that is liberated from the linear and the fixed. Maggie MacLure describes the threshold as a liminal event between 'knowing and unknowing, that prevents wonder from being wholly contained or recuperated as knowledge’ (MacLure, 2013, p. 228); threshold as a verb, a doing, a temporality without linearity that moves us beyond representation (Harris 2014, p. 102). Wherever it occurs, performance is an affective field (of) attention; a practiced space, rather than simply or only bodies moving for/to/ around other bodies.

Thinking performance as field attention also asks us to consider affect as that which brings together the social and the biological under the banner of posthuman performance: a dynamic encounter between bodies in/as an emplaced and always-material event (Thrift, 2008). The contribution performance scholars can make to the posthuman project of ‘unshackling our lived relationship with the rest of Being from dominating, unequal and abusive instrumentaliza- tions rooted in the ‘logic’ of human exceptionalism’ are many, particularly in ‘tracking the various material affects of bodies’ and patterns of movement and force (Brisini & Simmons, 2016, p. 193). Such inquiry must be a ‘projective enterprise, rather than a descriptive one, if it is to enact the fullest manifestation of its disruption to the anthropocentric and abusive cultural practices—rooted in the legacy of humanist ideation—of contemporary Western capitalism’ (p. 192).

For example, Craig Gingrich-Philbrook (2016) uses posthuman performance to examine the ways human beings both exercise and deny their relationships with animals, technologies and environments in his consideration of the execution of the healthy giraffe, Marius11 by the Copenhagen Zoo. Gingrich-Philbrook considers his/human ‘imbrication’ (as overlapping existence as well as the successful closing of a wound) with Marius/animal a performative process that provides protection and flexibility for ‘becomings as biological ‘ideas on the move”. It is also an act of

suturing flesh together, staggering its fine layers to stitch and heal what has otherwise been divided, perhaps in an act of violence, or at the very' least, the ideological hubris that insists on injurious division between one kind of creature and all of the others.

(Gingrich-Philbrook, 2016, p. 203)

Posthuman approaches to the affective in performance such as Gingrich-Phil- brook’s draw field attention to the ‘radical interconnection’ of our shared world not as an escape strategy', but instead as an encounter where something—indeed, everything—is at stake (Brisini & Simmons, 2016, p. 195).

Conclusion: Meaning on the move

Affective performance scholarship ‘keep[s] meaning on the move’ (Jackson & Mazzei, 2012, p. i). In this essay, we’ve explored affective performance as the ability of bodies to move and be moved through practice and in proximity. We’ve aimed to show how affect studies and posthumanism moves performance scholarship beyond individual-collective, body-mind, and agency-passivity dualisms and leaning into a more world-focused consideration of affective performance and performative affect. As a socially engaged and embodied set of practices that aims to use performance to improve lives and create better worlds (Nicholson, 2014), affective leanings must be grounded in the understanding that ‘affects have specific effects [because] it makes no sense to talk about them outside this understanding’ (Probyn, 2010, p. 72). We must also recognise that ‘Leaning with others, then, becomes a personal comfort and a political force...we need to stand with others in kinship for our own and others’ benefit’ (Pelias, 2016). When we do, the effects of our affective leanings in performance advance non-dualistic understandings of agency, feeling, and relation- ality for the wellbeing of the planet and all who reside here.


  • 1 In Relationscapes, Erin Manning (2009) develops the concept of preacceleration in relation to movement (including, but not restricted to, dance). She writes, ‘To move is to engage the potential inherent in the preacceleration that embodies you. Preaccelerated because there can be no beginning or end to movement. Movement is one with the world, not body/world, but body-worlding. We move not to populate space, not to extend or embody it, but to create it ... Preacceleration: a movement of the not-yet that composes the more-than-one that is my body. Call it incipient action’ (p. 13).
  • 2 Karen Barad’s (2016) articulation of agential realism in particular, and a substantial body of research on the so-called ‘affective turn’ (including Blackman & Venn, 2010; Clough, 2007; Gregg & Seigworth, 2010; Thrift, 2008 and Wetherell 2012) addresses the inter-relatedness matter, discourse and performance. Britta Timm Knudsen (2020) writes that much affect scholarship orients itself around a ‘non-representational, pre- linguistic point of departure ... [wherein] affects [are] precognitive and prelinguistic intensities hitting the body beyond or alongside discursive patterns’. Knudsen also sees the scholarship of Julia Kristeva as foundational to the current ‘turn’, in which affect performs a kind of ‘rediscovery of the extralinguistic body as a critical corrective to the predominant linguistic turn in the humanities and social sciences throughout the 20th century’, with multiple peaks including during the 1920s and 30s, the 1960s, and the 1980s (Knudsen, 2020). Knudsen’s useful survey includes social constructivists who explicitly critique the precognitive ‘camp’ or approach (including Blackman, 2012; Leys, 2011 and Wetherell, 2012) ‘as well as predominantly feminist discourse-oriented scholars’ (such as Ahmed, 2004/2012; Berlant, 2011; Butler, 2009; Gregg, 2011; Gregg & Seigworth, 2010), ‘who look at strategic uses of affect to keep someone or something out of or in place within a given political logic or system’ (Knudsen, 2020).
  • 3 This and other ‘public feelings projects’ have been developed out of collaborative writing groups and conferences in the US (Austin, Chicago, New York) and Canada (Toronto) and their ‘salon-like gatherings in which thinking can be speculative and feelings both good and bad are welcome’ (Cvetkovich, 2012, p. ix).
  • 4 Theories of affect that call our attention to pre-personal, pre-verbal experiences of force, intensity, or the capacity to move and be moved draw on Gilles Deleuze and

Guittari’s (1980/1987) distinction between affects and emotions. This distinction is reflected in affect studies scholarship that extends from Deleuze (in particular) to other thinkers. For example, Brian Massumi (2002) writes that emotion is the ‘capture of intensity, whereas affect always escapes’ (pp. 35-36). Laura Cull (2012) notes Deleuze’s distinction between ‘emotion, an owned, fixed experience belonging to an individual subject’, and affect, ‘a particular kind of “encounter” between bodies’ (p. 192). Sarah Ahmed (2004/2012) distinguishes affect from emotion by highlighting how ‘Emotions in their very intensity involve miscommunication, such that even when we feel we have the same feeling, we don’t necessarily have the same relationship to the feeling’ (p. 10). For Marla Carlson (2017), ‘affect is an ‘energetic dimension’; emotion a ‘selective activation or expression of affect from a ‘virtual co-presence’ of potentials on the basis of memory’ (p. 139). Carlson also considers a potential shift from affect to emotion as characteristic of theatre versus performance (p. 141), though as we suggest in this chapter, aligning our work with non-dualist constructions of affect and performance allows us to focus on the relational and inseparability of body, mind and feeling.

  • 5 More in keeping with Barauch Spinoza’s drawing together of affect, feeling and emotion.
  • 6 Julia Gillard’s 2012 ‘Misogyny Speech’ was voted the ‘most unforgettable moment in Australian television history’ by Guardian newspaper readers in 2020. The speech can be viewed in its entirety at:
  • 7 Diamond’s clear and helpful writing on the links between performance and performa- tivity comes together in this oft-cited line: ‘The point is, as soon as performativity comes to rest on a performance, questions of embodiment, of social relations, of ideological interpretations, of emotional and political effects, all become discussable’ (Diamond, 1996/2015, p. 5).
  • 8 A video documenting the performance can be viewed at: safari&rLs=en&q=australian+voices-t-not+now+not+ever&ie=U'rF-8&oc=UTF-8
  • 9 As discussed by Janssen (2020), the Boss Bitch Fight Challenge video can be viewed at: boss-bitch-fight-challenge/
  • 10 This line is adapted from Stewart (2007), who writes of a ‘subject who is literally touched by a force and tries to take it on, to let it puncture and possess one to make oneself its object, if only in passing’ (p. 116).
  • 11 Marius, a healthy young giraffe, was executed because his ‘genes were well represented among the captive giraffe population in European Zoos’ (Schwartz, qtd. in Gingrich- Philbrook, 2016, p. 200).


Ahmed, S. (2004/2012). The cultural politics of emotion. New York: Routledge.

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