ASTR 2021

Qualifying Comprehensivity: Field Conversation 

Geared towards current or recent PhD students (and their policy-making advisers), the "Qualifying Comprehensivity" Field Conversation convenes a conversation across intellectual and institutional homes about the disciplinary repetitions involved in the PhD candidacy process. As Shannon Jackson recounts in Professing Performance, the field of performance studies is marked by an epistemological anxiety that brings about genealogical repetitions, as "scholars continually find themselves rehearsing and revising various kinds of intellectual histories.”  Many other scholars have meaningfully addressed the field's inter-, anti-, or post- disciplinary leanings. This working group considers the PhD candidacy process as a site of disciplinary repetition. Candidacy requirements both articulate the educational philosophy of performance studies via the texts they repeat and reproduce, and they delimit, define, or denote what texts and practices constitute the field of performance studies at a moment in time. This conversation understands disciplinary formation in terms other than, or in excess of, repetition. First, how are examinations being implemented in ways that interrogate performance studies as an inter/anti/post discipline? How might they better serve this mission? How does performance practice as research manifest in the examination phase, and how does it change our relationship to disciplinary repetition? What challenges does practice as research present, particularly for students from diverse institutional, disciplinary, economic, and linguistic backgrounds?

In partnership with the New Paradigms in Graduate Education Subcommittee, potential outcomes for this field conversation may include:

  1. A report that reiterates the organizer's findings of cross-institutional candidacy processes
  2. A report of best practices on how to include performance traditions/skills/embodied knowledges as part of the exam
  3. A guide to funding/institutional support for the inclusion of archival content, training, or practice as research in the candidacy exam. This might include institutional or other barriers that prevent meaningful engagement with practice as research, as well as a curated list of inter-institutional or institutionally specific supports.
  4. Collected and collated exam lists and formats from students across institutions, organized by "sub-field," and published via ASTR or the organizers’ websites

For specific questions, Arianna Gass at ariannagass [at] uchicago [dot] edu  or Noe Montez at noe [dot] montez [at] gmail [dot] com.