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Performance Research Group

The Anomalous, Meeting: Performance Research Group seminar series 2015

The Performance Research Group at King’s College London presents The Anomalous, Meeting, a seminar series bridging the Arts and Humanities and the Social Sciences. Curated by Penny Newell, the series brings together scholars from various disciplines hoping to begin conversations around and about anomalies, in theory and in practice.

The anomaly is typically an erroneous result that exceeds the given operational rules of a system. Yet, the anomaly is also paradoxical, since its excessiveness retains a productive capacity with regard to the system's operation; the 'anomalous' outside seems to affirm the stability of the inside, which reconstitutes its power through calling 'anomalous' that which it cannot control, compute, capture or define. This paradox carries implications for the operation of systems, subjectivity, power and theory. Indeed, for Lyotard (1997), 'blanks' invoke critique of a political system, yet in his theory of postmodernity these blanks become spaces where power is reconstituted; for Lacan, the unconscious vacillates in a 'split' or anomaly in the subject, producing that subject as subject; Foucault stresses the operational rules necessary for the emergence of the anomaly, whilst Adorno encounters the 'nonidentical' in thought, investing anomalies with the capacity to be thought through or from. The Anomalous, Meeting re-opens these questions, bridging contemporary disciplines and fields in new and stimulating ways.


All events take place in the Anatomy Museum, King’s Building 6th floor, King’s College London, Strand, WC2R 2LS

Thursday 12th March (7-8.30pm): Anomalies and Political Ecologies: Seb Franklin (King's College London) and Steffen Böhm (Essex)

This session responds to theoretical and diagrammatic representations of social and economic organisation, in order to set out a contemporary politics of anomalies. Steffen Böhm will draw on extensive research examining the politics of social organisation, in order to sketch an understanding of the anomalous as the necessary ingredient for capitalist reproduction and expansion. Seb Franklin will draw on his research into the aesthetics and politics of digitality by responding to book illustrations depicting Western networked societies, in order to ask whether and how anomalies are foreclosed within the computational logic of socioeconomic systems.

Monday 16th March (7-8.30pm): The Anomaly in Art and Modes of Existence: Penny Newell (King's College London) and Philip Conway (Bristol)
This session interrogates the anomalies at stake in contemporary art and philosophy. Penny Newell will ask how art produces meaning through that which exceeds beyond the operational terms of an artistic mode of production. Philip Conway will critically reflect on his role as a co-inquirer on the politics [POL] research team of Bruno Latour’s An Inquiry Into Modes of Existence (AIME), thinking about the ontology of problems, and theorising anomalousness in terms of the concept of diplomacy, modes of existence, radical empiricism and cosmopolitics.

Monday 23rd March (6.30-8pm): Anomalies as Waking Dreams: Karoline Gritzner (Aberystwyth) and Theron Schmidt (King's College London)
This session stages the anomaly within the expanded field of Performance Studies and the growing field of Performance Philosophy. Karoline Gritzner will draw on her extended research into the interconnected practices of performance and philosophy, focussing a definition of anomalies through her recent work on Adorno’s overlooked dream notebooks. In a piece written partly during states of insomnia, Theron Schmidt will explore the problem of darkness as a representational anomaly – how do you ‘show’ it? – as well as a phenomenological limit-case.


Steffen Böhm is Director of the Essex Sustainability Institute and Professor in Management and Sustainability at the University of Essex. His research focuses on political economies and ecologies of organization, management and the environment. He was a co-founder of the open-access journal ephemera: theory & politics in organization, and is co-founder and co-editor of the new open-access publishing press MayFlyBooks as well as Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements. He has published four books: Repositioning Organization Theory (Palgrave), Against Automobility (Blackwell), Upsetting the Offset: The Political Economy of Carbon Markets (Mayfly), and The Atmosphere Business (Mayfly). The new book Ecocultures: Blueprints for Sustainable Communities is forthcoming with Routledge.

Philip Conway is an independent writer and blogger, a contributor and co-inquirer on Bruno Latour’s ongoing experiment in Digital Humanities (AIME), and Research Assistant in the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol. Conway rigorously critiques actor-network theory, Science and Technology Studies and the philosophies of Bruno Latour, Isabelle Stengers, William James, Alfred North Whitehead and Peter Sloterdijk. In bringing these ideas and theorists into the discourses of international relations and geopolitics, Conway forces us to question: 'What is the geo in geopolitics? And what, for that matter, is the politics?’

Seb Franklin works on issues relating to the aesthetics and politics of the digital, with a particular focus on the ways in which digitality is represented and critiqued in literature, theory, film, and computational media. His first monograph, titled Control: Digitality as Cultural Logic, is under contract with the MIT Press, and his writing on critical theory, literature, cybernetics, and media has appeared in CTheory, Cultural Politics, Textual Practice, Women's Studies Quarterly, and World Picture.

Karoline Gritzner explores the interconnections between philosophy (Critical Theory and continental philosophy) and theatre, drama and performance. Her other research interests include contemporary British and Irish Drama, Modern European Theatre, Gender and Sexuality. She co-organised a symposium on ‘Theatrical Aesthetics of Eroticism and Death’ at Aberystwyth University in 2004 and, with Prof David Ian Rabey, the first international conference on ‘Howard Barker's Art of Theatre' in July 2009. Her recent publications include, ‘Thoughts which do not understand themselves: on Adorno’s Dream Notes’ in Will Daddario and Karoline Gritzner (eds), Adorno and Performance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Penny Newell is a poet and PhD researcher based in the Department of English at King’s College London, and convenor of The Anomalous, Meeting seminar series. Her work positions clouds as anomalous events in the relation between thinking and being, examining historical and contemporary materials in literature, science, theatre and performance, and in visual, digital and installation arts. She has published in Platform: Postgraduate Journal of Theatre Arts (Royal Holloway), Boundaries (Sussex University), and Performance Research (Routledge, Taylor and Francis).

Theron Schmidt has most recently reflected on the practice of artists such as Back to Back Theatre, Tim Crouch, Richard Maxwell, Rabih Mroué, Walid Raad, Rimini Protokoll, and Christoph Schlingensief. He is particularly interested in the ways that certain problems of speech and gesture in the political realm can be considered as essentially theatrical problems –problems for theatre, but also ideas that theatricality makes problems of – such as problems of representation or of authenticity. Theron is a core convener of the Performance Philosophy network and Assistant Editor for Contemporary Theatre Review where he edits the website.

About the Performance Research Group

Performance Research at King’s College London takes a ‘broad spectrum’ approach to the study of performance. The group’s members are involved in research in theatre, dance, and live art, as well as in performances operating within a wide range of disciplines, social contexts, and systems.

The Anatomy Theatre and Museum provides a state of the art home for theatre and performance research at King’s. The space features a digitally equipped i-lab and performance studio, and is the studio for the internationally recruiting MA Theatre and Performance Studies, as well as for the Centre for e-Research.

Members of staff at King’s involved in the Performance Research Group include:

Kélina Gotman
Alan Read
• Theron Schmidt
Lara Shalson
• Gregg Whelan, AHRC Creative Fellow 2010-15

PhD students affiliated with the group include:

• Ioli Andreadi
• Caroline Goyder (on study leave)
• Sophie Lally
• Alvin Lim (joint PhD with National University of Singapore)
• Nina Mühlemann
• Kaitlyn Regehr

Prospective PhD students interested in pursuing performance research at King’s are invited to contact any of our members.

postgraduate research students
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