20 September, 2023 | by Rushi P

Intersections Conference 2020

The precarious nature of the new university: the prospects, problems and aspirations of early career theatre and performance researchers

Deadline for applications: 31st October 2019

The new generation of researchers is forming in an environment of increased precarity and instability, contained within academic institutions, and imploding outside of them. The last ten years have fundamentally changed the landscape of higher education: fees have tripled, financial support for students has been obliterated, REF has altered our understanding of what research is and does. The governments industrial strategy, with its sharp focus on productivity and economic impact, is likely to apply further pressures on the arts and culture sectors, already having to prove their financial and commercial viability. Brexit remains an unknown known: sure to deflate international collaboration, exchange and funding, and unlikely to engender positive changes.

These pressures (and others not mentioned here) are putting higher education at risk. Universities are increasingly forced to commodify and commercialise their work, reducing space for politically challenging or risky research. Theatre and performance research like other disciplines of arts and humanities find it increasingly difficult to prove their worth. As we undertake PhD research in the current context these issues become unsettling and pertinent to address.

In recognition of the conditions theatre and performance research is happening in, and in anticipation of those that await, we are taking the annual Intersections conference, dedicated to work of post-graduate and early-career researchers, as an opportunity to ask: what will our research have to do, to adapt, to challenge and to counteract the institutional, political, institutional and financial pressures that await or are already here? How effective are the questions we ask, the methods we devise and choose, the curriculum we teach, the collaborations we undertake, in disrupting the existing structural, institutional, and political inequalities? What are we doing – through our research – to protest the academic and/or political cannon? How is our research resisting, rather than conforming to, the pressures to be impactful and economically viable at all cost? What kind of university is the early career theatre and performance research creating?
We the postgraduate community at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama invite proposals for papers, panels, provocations and performative lectures to begin to address some of the following themes:

How can we make and hold space for a plurality of voices, including those who are disenfranchised and marginalised, in the current precarious context of higher education?
What is the case for theatre and performance research? What will the consequences be if arts research is engineered out of focus?
How can early career work act as a form of institutional critique and propose or work to achieve institutional reorganisation? How will conditions of extreme precarity influence these possibilities?
What are the ethics of early career research? Where do we locate them in the form and content of our research?
How is decolonisation used to introduce equality into fields that may be monolithic, and how is it (ab)used to entrench dichotomies and further inequalities? Where do we locate / how do we bring forth the inclusion of dramaturgies of resistance?
How do we propose to work with artists? How do we propose to support artists? If we are artists, how is this reflected in our research?
How do we locate and identify our blind spots? What do we talk about too much and what do we not talk about enough? What are we researching that no one is teaching?
How do we challenge practices and politics of exclusion? How do bordering practices and assumptions about alterity impact our work, and how do we contest them?
How do we disrupt theatre and performance categories, for example those of applied and community practice, or theory and practice divides? How does interdisciplinarity influence these discussions?
We invite abstracts that address these and affiliated topics on their own or locate their reflections in your current research.

To apply, please send a title, a 300 word abstract and a 150 word bio to [email protected][email protected] by midnight on 31st October. Please also let us know your technical requirements; presentations will be allocated 20 minutes, with further feedback time and will have use of a projector, if required. We are open to papers, performative lectures, provocations and other forms of presentations, as long as they can be achieved with basic tech.


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For any questions, please contact Kate Duffy, Bojana Jankovi and Hara Topa on: [email protected]<mailto:[email protected]> Deadline for applications: 31st October 2019 Intersections 2020 will be held on Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th January 2020.