Yours Sincerely: A History and Theory of the Performance of Self

Prof C. Jane Taylor
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I am undertaking an historical and theoretical enquiry into the performance of the self within Protestant (largely English) culture. I will be considering the emergence of "sincerity" as a naturalized good, through a consideration of materials from the fields of art history, theatre history, law, theology, philosophy, and music. I am interested in considering the dialectical relation between performances on and off stage, in order to bring both social studies and art critical discourses together. I also hope to demonstrate the values of an interdisciplinary enquiry for performance studies. My purposes are several. On one hand I will be undertaking an historical analysis. At the same time I hope to show how the concept "sincere" masks its own discursive specificity and situates a particular set of assumptions about truth and selfhood as ideals outside of cultural and political parameters. The second half of my paper will consider the ways in which this set of assumptions has implicitly informed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. Given the authority of the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) in recent discourses on Global Justice, it seems to me useful that the particular contexts of this model of the performance of the self be made evident.

Keywords: Performance, History, Identity, Truth, Interdisciplinarity
Stream: Media, Film Studies, Theatre, Communication, Knowledge, Philosophy, Ethics, Consciousness, History, Historiography
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
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Prof C. Jane Taylor

Skye Chair of Dramatic Art, Wits School of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand
South Africa

My PhD thesis considered the impact of commodity culture on subjectivity, through an analysis of the Restoration play and the early novel. I also have an interest in contemporary arts practice and theory. In 1988 I co-edited "From South Africa" (U of Chicago),an anthology of arts produced during the Years of Emergency in South Africa, before the first democratic election. In the mid-1990s I designed "Fault Lines", a series of cultural responses to issues of Truth and Reconciliation. I am also a playwright, librettist, curator and art critic. My play "Ubu and the Truth Commission" considers many of the issues addressed by my recent theoretical work. I currently teach within the School of Dramatic Art, at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Ref: H05P0808