Call for Papers – Performing the University: an anthology about the concept of the university as performance

Posted by | March 02, 2018 | Uncategorized

Call for Papers – Performing the University (working title)

an anthology about the concept of the university as performance


Volume Editors:

James Arvanitakis (Western Sydney University)

Peter Copeman (University of Canberra)

Amanda Burrell (Western Sydney University)


Universities are cultural entities, fashioned, refashioned and contextualised in specific social and historical circumstances, in elaborate and protracted processes. As such, they are constituted by behaviours that are learned, rehearsed, presented and re-presented over time – as a series of performances.

We can see parallels between performance events and the idea of the university. Performance events seek the productive immersion both of performers and of audiences in a co-constructed present experience of meaning-making, in a way where something significant happens to them, where they contribute to and shape what is happening, and where they are also conscious of the experience in a way that takes them into and beyond the present moment. Similarly, in the university, we search for ways to promote the productive involvement both of educators and of students in co-constructed experiences of meaning-making. This happens in a way where something significant happens to both, where they contribute to what is happening, and where they are conscious of the experience in a way that takes them into and beyond it.

The vein is richer if we widen the scope to embrace the wider shades of meaning of performance, around notions of identity, agency, influence and efficacy.

This book is primarily geared toward university administrators, academics, students, government education bureaucrats, politicians, and anyone else with a stake in the tertiary education sector and an interest in what universities are and do. It should also be of interest to the performance studies community.

We invite chapter proposals for contributions representing a range of perspectives from performance scholars and practitioners, academics and researchers in other disciplines, students, university leaders and administrators, and others. Contributions might explore the broad notion of the university as performance as touched on above, but might also apply a more specific performance studies lens to themes such as:

  • The university as a site of improvisation.
  • Assessment of institutional, team and individual staff achievement, efficacy and impact, against predetermined criteria such as key performance indicators, including notions of ‘the performative university’ where performative has a narrow meaning around measurements of efficiency, accountability, and meeting the demands of the market.
  • Outward-facing ‘front stage’ impression management by universities via branding artefacts such as websites, social media, strategic plans and so on, compared with actual ‘back stage’ experiences for staff, students and other stakeholders.
  • Gamification of university staff performance management, recognition and reward.
  • The dramaturgy of curriculum design and delivery, research and publication, academic career-building.
  • Student liminality, identity-building and becoming.
  • Masking and unmasking in teaching, research, and university administration.
  • The performance of academic expertise and credibility in a post-truth era.
  • Celebritisation of academic ‘rockstars’.
  • Universities as gendered organisations.
  • Metaphors of teaching, learning and assessment as performance.
  • The explicit adaptation and application of performance techniques in university teaching and learning contexts (e.g. public speaking and presentation, language learning, clinical simulation).
  • University ceremonies, rituals and costumes, whether formal or informal.
  • The representation of universities, academics and students in theatre, film, television, song, music, dance or other performance events.
  • The status of explicit performance schools within universities, and the influence of the presence of such schools on overall institutional performance.

This list is not exhaustive. We invite other interpretations that assert a good fit with the book concept. Please feel free to contact Peter Copeman for an initial discussion to help determine likely suitability.

We also propose to include a bibliography of previously publications that could otherwise have been eligible for consideration for this book, and so invite submissions either of copies of such publications or links to them, together with a paragraph or so for each outlining a case for why they should be considered.

The deadline for proposals is Tuesday 3 April 2018.


Proposal Guidelines

Email a 300-400 word abstract to Peter Copeman (

Please include a 150-200 word bio highlighting your performance/performance studies or related credentials.

Final length of accepted manuscripts will be 4000-6000 words.



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