Poetry/Performance - Mellon Research Seminar

Amherst College (June 4 - July 14, 2012)

“If we lose the intimacy of the connection between literature and performance, we diminish something vital in and between them.”   - Peggy Phelan, “Just Want to Say,” PMLA (October 2010)

Poetry performance, performance poetry—these describe different phenomena, but the same sense of distinction and hierarchy. Either a text recirculates as performance or a performance practice demands the creation of a text—but the sense of priority and sequence, in each case, is clear.  Our standard ways of thinking about poetry and performance are too hierarchical and taxonomically strict.  They miss what Peggy Phelan calls “the intimacy of the connection between literature and performance.”

This seminar brings together Five College students and faculty from across the arts and humanities who are interested in envisioning more entangled relationships between poetry and performance. How can we think about the two together, inseparably? How does certain poetry demand to be read as performance? How can poetry coexist with and feed upon the performance culture surrounding it? How do particular styles, techniques, and genres travel back and forth between poetic and performance practices?

Work developed in this seminar will be presented as part of a "Poetry & Performance" conference at Amherst College in November 2012.

Faculty Participants

  • Joselyn Almeida-Beveridge (UMass, English)
  • Catherine Ciepiela (Amherst College, Russian)
  • Christopher Grobe (Amherst College, English)
  • Ingrid Nelson (Amherst College, English)
  • Daniel Sack (Five College Post-Doc, Performance Studies)
  • Krupa Shandilya (Amherst College, Women's & Gender Studies)
  • Wendy Woodson (Amherst College, Theater & Dance)