Call for Proposals: Women’s Innovations in Theatre, Dance, and Performance

Volume 1: Performers

Co-edited by Colleen Kim Daniher and Marlis Schweitzer

This volume will focus on innovations by women and femme artists such as dancers, actors, musicians, storytellers, performance artists, and other entertainers who appear in public within an audienced context. We are specifically interested in innovations in performance practices as a way to uncover new historiographies of women’s performance across time and space. How might the way that women performers innovatively use voice, gesture, role/repertory, technologies of appearance, publicity, and social experimentation open up new genealogies of innovation, lines of influence, and contact zones of performance history? Conversely, how might new geographies and temporalities of relation across women’s performance practices open up new conceptualizations of both innovation and feminist historiography? Instead of an exceptionalist/individualist account of innovation or a strictly chronological approach to documenting women’s innovations in performance across time but not space, we aim to produce a relational historiography that spatializes as well as temporalizes women’s innovations in performance. Thus, we take our cue from feminist historiographical methods of “connective comparison”—as modeled by The Modern Girl Around the World (Duke 2008) project—to track convergences of innovations in women’s performance across time and space.

The volume consequently embraces a flexible structure focused on performance practices. We seek a range of written submissions that consider a broad history of women’s performance organized around the following themes:

  • Innovations in voice
  • Innovations in gesture
  • Innovations in technologies of appearance
  • Innovations in role/repertoire
  • Innovations in publicity
  • Innovations in social experimentation (both within and outside the immediate site of performance)

Contributions might include:

  • Analyses of individuals or groups (e.g., collectives, collaborations, associations, institutions) who developed a performance practice that has been widely celebrated for its innovation and/or whose innovations have been overlooked, dismissed, or misunderstood; such analyses might also detail the structures (social, political, economic, institutional, familial) or ecosystems that have variously supported or inhibited women’s innovation.
  • Case studies of individuals or groups (e.g., collectives, collaborations, associations, institutions) who pushed existing performance practices in new directions across time and space, whether through adaptation, revision, expansion, subversion, or rejection; such case studies might attend to the formation of performance genealogies and trace connections to other performance ecologies; efforts at innovation may have failed but are nevertheless notable for the attempt.
  • Examinations of cross-cultural collaborations and network-building among individuals or groups (e.g., collectives, collaborations, associations, institutions); analysis of individuals or groups who participated in the wider popularization, expansion, dissemination, and transformation of existing performance practices across time and space, including movements within/across genre, discipline, geography, nation state, religion, political spectrum; as with above, efforts at innovation may have failed but are nevertheless notable for the attempt.

While we acknowledge that “full” historiographic coverage is an impossibility, this volume will take a global history approach that centers the intimacies of empire, colonialism, and migration in both social and aesthetic contexts. We seek contributors who can speak to these recurring themes across multiple languages, geographies, cultures, and time periods. We are particularly interested in centering the voices of IBPOC scholars and contributors across career stages.

Additional questions to consider include:

  • What does an innovation in performance practice look like, sound like, feel like, taste like, smell like?
  • What are the possibilities and limitations of thinking about performance innovations, e.g., to what extent does the word “innovation” reproduce existing social hierarchies? What other words might stand in place of innovation? How do feminist theatre and performance historians trace the history of innovation in performance practice? What methodological tools and theoretical frameworks lend themselves to this line of inquiry? What new tools or theoretical frameworks are needed?
  • How do feminist theatre and performance historians write about the history of innovation in performance practice? What writing or creative practices lend themselves to this task? What new approaches are needed?

We invite scholars and artists to address these or other pressing questions in the form that seems most appropriate to them. We anticipate including a range of essays (8,000-10,000 words) as well as shorter pieces (2,500-3,000 words) in the form of artist commissions, manifestos, creative nonfiction, annotations to primary source documents, interviews, and critical responses in the field of feminist performance historiography. We also welcome forms not listed here.

Contact Colleen Kim Daniher ( and Marlis Schweitzer ( if you have questions. 

Abstracts submitted should be 250 words, and include a working title and a description of the methodological approach. Potential contributors should also include a brief (150 word) bio. These should be combined into one MS Word document (Times New Roman, 12-pt, single-spaced) for submission.

Deadline for submission of abstracts is February 1, 2023.  Abstracts should be submitted online HERE.

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