Shifting Perspectives and Collapsing Binaries: Critical Performative Pedagogy in the Performance Studies Classroom


  • Deborah Newton



Much as performance comes into being by the bodily co-presence of performers and audience, so teaching comes into being by the bodily co-presence of teachers and learners, by their encounters and interactions – their relationship. This paper traverses the process dimension of performative teaching and learning by exploring the productive intersections between critical performative pedagogy (CPP) and performance within the performance studies classroom. It does so by examining the power of performativity in the teaching-learning context where, it is claimed, its major characteristic lies in its ability to destabilise and even collapse the inhibitive binary oppositions evident in classrooms purveying a more traditional, conservative culture of the teaching-learning process.


Albright, Alison C. (1993): Dancing across Difference: Experience and Identity in the Classroom. In: Women and Performance 6, 41-54

Berger, Peter; Luckmann, Thomas (1967): The Social Construction of Reality. Harmondsworth: Penguin

Butt, Trevor (2004): Understanding People. Palgrave: MacMillan

Carlson, Marvin (2004): Performance: A Critical Introduction. London: Routledge

Colby, Roy (1972): 'Progressive People: Those who deliberately or unwittingly promote the Party Line'. A Communese-English Dictionary. Western Islands Publishers: Massachusetts. Online Resource: THE TRADITIONAL AND PROGRESSIVE PHILOSOPHIES OF EDUCATION. Online Resource: (Accessed 16 April 2014)

Conquergood, Dwight (2002): Performance studies: Interventions and radical research. TDR: The Drama Review 46, 145-156

Derrida, Jacques (1997): Of Grammatology. Baltimore & London: Johns Hopkins University Press 1997, corrected edition, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Descartes, René (1641): Meditations on First Philosophy. In: The Philosophical Writings of René Descartes, trans. by J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff and D. Murdoch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1984, vol. 2, 1-62

Ellsworth, Elizabeth (2005): Places of learning: Media, architecture, pedagogy. New York: Routledge

Felman, Shoshana (1987): Jacques Lacan and the adventure of insight. Psychoanalysis in contemporary culture. Boston: Harvard University Press

Fischer-Lichte, Erika (2008): The Transformative Power of Performance: A new aesthetics. Trans. Saskya Iris Jain. London: Routledge

Freire, Paulo (1998): Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage (Clarke, P., Trans.). Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield

Freire, Paulo (2000): Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum

Friend, Chris (2012): Learning as Performance: MOOC Pedagogy and On-ground Classes. Online Resource: (Accessed 24 August 2014)

Giroux, Henry A. (2011): On Critical Pedagogy. London: The Continuum International Publishing Group

Goffman, Erving (1969): The presentation of the self in everyday life. London. Allen Lane

Hooks, Bell (1994): Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge

Husserl, Edmund (1970): The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press

Kelly, George (1970): A brief introduction to personal construct theory. In: D. Bannister (Ed.): Perspectives in Personal Construct Theory. London: Academic Press. Reprinted 1985, London: Centre for Personal Construct Theory

Kisliuk, Michelle (2002): The Poetics and Politics of Practice: Experience, Embodiment, and the Engagement of Scholarship. In: Nathan Stucky and Cynthia Wimmer (eds.): Teaching Performance Studies, 99-117. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press

Liew, Warren Mark. (2013): Effects Beyond Effectiveness. Teaching as a Performative Act. Curriculum Inquiry 43, 2, 261-288

McLaren, Peter (1991): Schooling the Postmodern Body: Critical Pedagogy and the Politics of Enfleshment. In: Giroux, Henry (ed.): Postmodernism, Feminism, and cultural Politics: Redrawing Educational Boundaries. New York: State University of New York

McLaren, Peter (1993): Schooling as a Ritual Performance: Toward a Political Economy of Educational Systems and Gestures (2nd Ed.). New York: Routledge

Merleau- Ponty, Maurice (1962): Phenomenology of Perception. London: Routledge

Newton, Robert J.; Mathews, Peter V. (1985): The Study Skills Paradox: “You Can Bring a Horse to Water But You Cannot Make it Drink”. In: The Vocational Aspect of Education Vol 37, No 96, 23-31

Perry, Mia; Medina, Carmen (2011): Embodiment and Performance in Research: Investigating the Possibility of the Body in Curriculum Experience. In: Journal of Curriculum Theorising Vol 27, No 3, 62-75

Pineau, Elyse L. (1994): Teaching is Performance: Reconceptualizing a Problematic Metaphor. In: American Educational Research Journal 31, 3-25

Pineau, Elyse L. (2002) Critical Performative Pedagogy: Fleshing Out the Politics of Liberatory Education. In: Stucky, Nathan; Wimmer, Cynthia (eds.): Teaching Performance Studies. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 41-54

Prendergast, Monica (2007) Bryant, K. Alexander; Anderson, G. L.; Gallegos. P. (2005) (eds.): Performance Theories in Education: Power, Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Theatre Research in Canada Vol. 28 No. 2. Online Resource: (Accessed 8 April 2014)

Schechner, Richard (1993): The future of Ritual. London: Routledge

Schechner, Richard (2006): Performance Studies: An Introduction. London: Routledge

Shor, Ira (1980): Critical Teaching and Everyday Life. Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press

Turner, Victor (1969): The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company

Warren, John (2007): Editors Introduction: Pedagogy and Performance. Liminalities Vol 3, Issue 1 (n. pag.)

Watzlawick, Paul; Bavelas, Janet B.; Jackson, Donald D. (1967): Pragmatics of Human Communication: A Study of interactional Patterns, Pathologies and Paradoxes. New York: W. W. Norton and Company Inc.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1972): Philosophical Investigations. Oxford: Blackwell