CFP: The Syllabus is the Thing: Materialities of the Performance Studies Classroom


Proposal for a Special Issue of Performance Matters

Edited by Karin Shankar and Julia Steinmetz

The Syllabus is the Thing: Materialities of the Performance Studies Classroom

What does a performance studies syllabus instantiate or call into being in the classroom? As an interdiscipline, performance studies has been incorporated as an academic field while still remaining sensationally unsettled in its interventions, methods, and objects of analysis. As such, performance studies syllabi may function as performance scores, performative texts, archives of pedagogical practice, and finally, as the material of our performance as teachers. Indeed, the classroom, for many of us, is our most prolific and durational performance site. These iterative classroom performances rely on scripts as well as improvisational practices, with new forms and constellations emerging from the tried and true. The classroom is then a black box: a space for the staging of collective process, of dialogical exchange, and of inquiry itself as a performance form. It is also a black box in another sense: the classroom walls obscure its inner workings, rendering the performance of pedagogy strikingly difficult to represent. How do we document these performances and make them accessible in some way to those who weren’t there?

This call for proposals asks scholars and practitioners to critically reframe the performance studies syllabus. If the syllabus (from its Greek origins, meaning “title,” “slip” or “label”) is a protocol for an experiment, how might we design syllabi to serve radical spaces of knowledge making and modes of coming to know? In turn, how might syllabi create new structures within which to learn, reformulating the dynamics and relationships between the positions teacher, student, and institution. As professors and teachers we often informally share syllabi and assignments with one another, but all too rarely do we publicly share our classroom materials. We argue that performance studies as a collective enterprise could benefit greatly from a commons of pedagogical materials. And so we invite contributions to a collection assembling the stuff of teaching, with the syllabus as a central object.

We invite submissions in the following forms:

Annotated syllabi


Statements of teaching philosophy

Pedagogical reflections, autoethnography, and performative writing

Teaching manifestos

Notes and marginalia

Classroom ephemera

Collaborative works with students

Images of teaching in action

Classroom contracts

Alternative modes of assessment and rubrics for evaluation

Thank you notes, love letters, and hate mail

Transcripts of discussions and conversations

Tools and talismans

Classroom ritual

Desk graffiti

Gossip and other minor modes


Submissions may address the following themes:

Experimental pedagogies

Relationality and mutuality (hierarchy vs collectivity, group dynamics, power dynamics)

Enactments of difference (race, gender, sexuality, nationality, class, ability)

Decolonial practices

Alternative archives

Syllabus as intellectual property

Pedagogy as citational practice

Aspirational syllabi and the classroom ideal

Kinesthetic and movement-based learning

Co-teaching and collaboration

Teaching in the time of COVID


Timeline for submissions

Given the range of forms we are soliciting for this special issue, contributions may consist of classroom materials and pieces of writing of up to 5000 words in length and may include visual or audio elements.

Please send submissions to no later than June 15, 2021. Accepted submissions will be notified by October 15, 2021. This special issue is expected to be published in May 2022.


Please address submissions-related queries to the guest editors Karin Shankar ( and Julia Steinmetz (