Mediated Matters, with Dorita Hannah and Julian Hetzel

Performance Design as Critical Perspective

This symposium-plus-masterclass explores performance design as critical perspective on the complexity of our contemporary condition in which we cannot separate the theatrical from the sociopolitical. Performance design is an extended notion of scenography that adopts performance theory as a means of acknowledging and critiquing the proliferation of events played out in a world that, as Jon McKenzie contends, ‘has become a designed environment in which an array of global performances unfold’ (2008: 128). Performance design provides a perspective that moves beyond a focus on the self-staging and self-design of individuals within these environments, and towards a post-human approach that investigates and reflects on the ways in which environments set the stage for performances in the broadest sense, from the arts to politics to public space. Performance design de-trivializes the ‘theatrical’ – too often considered false, exaggerated or histrionic – emphasizing the fact that the lived world itself is far stranger than fiction: a complex mixed reality-event unfolding though a multiplicity of material practices and scenographic screens. Furthermore, performance design acknowledges the potential of design itself as what Jane Rendell describes as a critical spatial practice, i.e. a practice that like critical theory is reflective rather than objectifying, and aims to change the world, or at least the world in which the inequalities of market capitalism, as well as patriarchal and colonial (or post-colonial) interests, continue to dominate.

During this masterclass with Dorita Hannah we will explore the theoretical foundations of performance design and explore the potential of this approach through a series of case studies. These examples will include the work of Julian Hetzel, in particular his performance installation Schuldfabrik, present at the Spring Festival. Julian Hetzel will join us for the discussion about his work. Participants are also invited to bring examples, including examples from their own practice.

Dorita Hannah (Research Professor of Interdisciplinary Architecture, Art & Design: University of Tasmania, Australia and Adjunct Professor of Stage & Space: Aalto University, Finland) works across the spatial, visual and performing arts as a scholar and design practitioner. Specializing in theatre architecture, as well as the design of cultural venues and public space, she also creates dance-architecture events and performative installations as practice-led research and was Theory Curator for PQ 2015 (Prague Quadrennial), Research Curator for WSD 2013 (World Stage Design) and Architectural Commissioner for PQ 2011. She has been on the boards of OISTAT (International Association of Scenographers, Theatre Architects & Technicians), Performance Studies international (PSi) and the Interior Architecture/Design Educators Association (IDEA). Hannah currently co-Chairs the Performance+Design Working Group for PSi and sits on various editorial boards and international research centers. Focusing on how the built environment housing an event is itself an event and an integral driver of experience, she has completed Event-Space: Theatre Architecture & the Historical Avant-Garde, a book to be published this year by Routledge Press. Dorita Hannah is Centre for the Humanities SPRING Festival Fellow 2017, a fellowship generously sponsored by the Centre for the Humanities at Utrecht University. This masterclass is co-organized with the Centre for the Humanities, SPRING Performing Arts Festival and Theatre Studies at Utrecht University.

Dates: May 19 and 22. Participants are requested to visit Julian Hetzel’s Schuldfabrik at the Spring Performing Arts festival on May 18, 19, 20 or 21. Tickets (16 euro) will be available through the festival website.

Venue: tba.

Credits: RMA Students can acquire 2 EC if they attend all events, complete the readings and write an assignment related to the topic of the workshop.

Registrations: Please contact Eloe Kingma at Be sure to specify your home institution and programme.


Nanna Bonde Thylstrup: Mass Digitization

Shadow Libraries: The Politics of Mass Digitization

Mass digitization of cultural memory artifacts has attained the status of a cultural and moral imperative and obligation. Today, anyone with an internet connection can access hundreds of millions of digitized cultural artifacts from the comfort of their desk, and cultural institutions and private bodies add thousands of new cultural works to the digital sphere every day. Mass digitization thus promises entirely new ways of reading, viewing, and structuring archives, new models of cultural value and its extraction, and new infrastructures of control. Yet, mass digitization also profoundly unsettles existing legal frameworks on digitization resulting among other things in groundbreaking new legislative measures such as the Google Books Settlement. In this talk media scholar Nanna Bonde Thylstrup (University of Copenhagen) will discuss the politics of mass digitization, focusing in particular on its legal, cultural and ethical implications drawing on analyses of Google Books, Europeana and the emerging phenomenon of “shadow libraries”, that is, platforms that amass illegal text collections in the name of open access.

Nanna Bonde Thylstrup is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen. Currently she is working on two major research projects on the cultural and ethical implications of digitization: Uncertain Archives, focusing on big data (as) archives, and The Past’s Future addressing the changing role of cultural memory institutions in the digital age.

March 22, 17:00-18:30
Leiden University, LIPSIUS 1.48
More info

Everyday Analysis and Politactics with Dan Bristow

Time: 4 May 2017, 1-3pm and 4-6pm (main event 4-6pm)

Location: University Library – Belle van Zuylenzaal, Singel 425 Amsterdam

Short description: Talk and masterclass linked to the Everyday Analysis book and blog project, and its most recent publication, Politactics (2016), organised by Ben Moore (Department of English) with guest speaker Dan Bristow (co-editor of Everyday Analysis), hosted by ASCA and NICA. The masterclass will focus on Lacanian approaches to cultural analysis.

Full description: From 2012 to 2016 the Everyday Analysis collective ran a successful blog and website ( dedicated to exploring everyday life, culture and politics from the perspective of literary and cultural theory, taking inspiration from earlier projects such as Roland Barthes’ Mythologies. A wide range of contributors from the UK and beyond produced short articles on topics ranging from Zombies and The Hunger Games to train journeys and social media, drawing on an array of theoretical heavyweights such as Lacan, Žižek, Bachelard, Jacqueline Rose, Kierkegaard and Althusser. The project has led to three volumes of collected articles with Zero Books (2014, 2015, 2016), including most recently Politactics: Political Conversations from Everyday Analysis, which registered a turn towards more explicitly political commentary and debate. The project has been characterised by the wish to take seriously the ephemeral experiences of the everyday, and to comment on them in a form that is both appropriate to the modern media landscape and accessible to non-academic as well as academic readers, without compromising the complexity of its theoretical sources. Politactics adds to this general goal the particular project of carving a middle path between conventional ‘Politics’, understood narrowly as the work of political parties, movements etc. and the broad academic insistence that all culture and social action is ‘political’. The book is organised to promote open-ended discussion around this topic, comprising a collection of themed articles from a range of writers along with responses from other contributors that build on or reinterpret those articles.

The talk will explore the origins and philosophy of Everyday Analysis, and will present extracts from Politactics selected for their relevance to recent (and ongoing) political development in Europe and America. Presenting will be Dan Bristow, co-editor of Everyday Analysis and author of Lacan and Joyce: Reading, Writing and Psychoanalysis (2016), along with Ben Moore (Department of English), a regular contributor. There will be time for questions and discussion.

Preceding the talk is a masterclass aimed at master students, which will explore ways of engaging with the work of Jacques Lacan (and psychoanalysis in general) as a tool of cultural analysis, taking as case studies a selection of pieces from Everyday Analysis and Bristow’s work in progress on 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968). Scenes from the film will be shown on the day, and readings will be provided in advance for registered participants. The session will revisit and interrogate key Lacanian concepts such as the cut, das Ding, and the barred subject.

To register for the masterclass, please contact Eloe Kingma at, mentioning your programme and affiliation.

The Aesthetic Turn in Post-Colonial Studies

19th meeting of the Platform for Post-Colonial Readings on 10 March 2017,
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Campus Etterbeek, Pleinlaan 2, Brussels, Room D.3.09

Since the turn of 21st century, critics have been debating and/or calling for an aesthetic turn in postcolonial studies. Having once revolutionized scholarly practice by instigating the revision of the exclusively ‘white’ canon, the field increasingly has come under scrutiny for treating post-colonial works of art primarily as socio-political documents that inform especially metropolitan audiences in the West about ‘Third World’ and ‘minority’ experiences. In the new millennium, scholars are no longer presuming representation in postcolonial art to be unproblematized by its mediation. They challenge postcolonial criticism’s “obsession with a somewhat vulgar mode of representation” (Bahri 2003: 11) and point to the lack of a sufficiently developed critical framework for addressing the aesthetic dimension of postcolonial art. Nevertheless, they have remained reluctant to suggest ‘a new post-colonial aesthetics’, i.e. a manner of artistic expression that would reflect a specifically post-colonial cultural politics or condition.

In our discussion of this debate, we wish to consider its possible influences on our scholarly practice today: Can we speak of a typically post-colonial aesthetics? If so, what would be its hallmarks? Are there ways to ‘provincialize’ Western aesthetic theory? How do aesthetic considerations contest and/or mediate the socio-political function of post-colonial texts? Can such a focus help to diversify our scholarly practice and enable us to tend to artistic expressions in the field that do not primarily address post-colonial ‘issues’? What could be the possible merits and limitations of a postcolonial aesthetic (to-be)?

The emerging aesthetic turn in post-colonial studies and the challenges this debate presents to post-colonial theorising and to concrete analyses of post-colonial artistic expression will be addressed by the Platform for Post-Colonial Readings, which invites in particular junior researchers to participate in a meeting that will consist of:

  • an introductory lecture by Prof. dr. Sandra Heinen (University of Wuppertal), an expert in intercultural and transmedial narrative research and (Anglophone) post-colonial fiction;
  • a collective close reading and discussion of some recent reflections on the increasing interest in aesthetics in post-colonial studies;
  •  junior scholars presenting their own research in the light of the day’s topic, followed by debate;
  • a joint on-the-spot-analysis of an Indian graphic novel in English.

A reader will be distributed in preparation of the meeting, which is open to all researchers, Research Master and PhD students working in the field of post-colonial studies. Please register with Dr. Eloe Kingma of NICA (, stating your name and programme and affiliation. If you want to participate in the meeting (and present your research project in the light of its topic), please contact Prof. Dr. Janine Hauthal ( or Prof. dr. Elisabeth Bekers ( by 1 March 2017. Active participation by Research Master students may be credited with 1 or 3 EC (without/with presentation).

Platform organizers: Elisabeth Bekers (VUB), Sarah De Mul (OU), Isabel Hoving (UL), Liesbeth Minnaard (UL); guest organizer: Janine Hauthal (VUB-FWO Vlaanderen).

Rose Mary Allen: Contesting Respectability, Unheard Voices

Mon 27 March 2017 (17-19hrs.): Public Lecture
Contesting Respectability: Sexual Politics in Post-Emancipation Colonial Curaçao

The lecture examines the ways in which colonial politics of respectability, aimed at shaping ideal Curaçaoan male and female behavior, formed a response to racist representations of black sexuality and character in Curaçaoan society. By reflecting on the discourses of respectability in Curaçaoan society, the lecture offers an analysis of gender differences in the region from a Dutch-Caribbean perspective and analyzes experiences of inclusion and exclusion within the wider Caribbean context. Data to sustain this presentation are principally drawn from documents as well as oral history interviews with elderly Curaçaoans.

Moderation and Q&A: Esther Captain

Tue-Wed 28-29 March 2017 (14-17hrs.): Workshop
Unheard Voices: Critical Perspectives on Oral History

Researchers are often confronted with the fact that certain key information is not in written form but stored in people’s memories. This is particularly the case in societies where written information represents colonial or other dominant views while alternative views are silenced. Oral history is a technique for recovering silenced or ignored perspectives as well as for recollecting information about the more recent past that combines anthropology, history, storytelling and journalism. Someone who does oral history research is both a listener and an archivist and is involved in interviewing individuals about their lives, experiences and memories, usually focused on a specific topic. Oral histories, the results of this technique, offer a unique way to learn about past events and about the people that experienced or played important roles in those events. In this workshop, participants will look at oral history research findings, issues around reliability, transcription, interpretation and analysis.

Dr. Rose Mary Allen is a cultural anthropologist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Curaçao dr. Moises da Costa Gomez. She is a recipient of a knighthood in the Order of Orange-Nassau by the Netherlands, the Cola Debrot award as well as the Boeli van Leeuwenprijs for her contribution to and achievement in the sciences. Publications include ‘Di Ki Manera’: A Social History of Afro-Curaçaoans, 1863–1917 (2007); and “The Oral History of Slavery, Afro-Curaçaoan Memory, and Self-Definition: A Caribbean Perspective on the 300th Anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht,” In: Sargasso: Journal of Caribbean Literature, Language, & Culture I & II (2014): 135-152.

Venue: Atria – Institute for Gender Equality and Women’s History Vijzelstraat 20, 1017 HK Amsterdam
Credits: RMA Students can acquire 2 EC if they attend all events, complete the readings and write an assignment related to the topic of the workshop.
Registrations: Please email Eloe Kingma at Be sure to specify your home institution and programme.