Call for Proposals: On Repetition

Volume 20, Number 5: On Repetition
Deadline: 5 December 2014

Vol. 20, No. 4: ‘On Repetition’ (October 2015)
Eirini Kartsaki (Anglia Ruskin University) and Theron Schmidt (King’s College London)

‘The love of repetition is in truth the only happy love’, Constantine Constantius argues in his attempt to re-live a love affair, always already lost. In this playful account of repetition, written in 1843, Søren Kierkegaard proposes that life itself is a repetition.

Across visual arts, music, contemporary performance, dance practices, craft, and writing, repetition can be seen as a strategy to connect the formal properties of a work to thematic concerns about originality, desire, and the work’s own material conditions of production. Within performance studies, repetition has often been depicted as the enemy of liveness or live presence. As Derrida described, Artaud dreamed of an impossible theatre that never repeats itself, nor anything else: ‘The stage will no longer operate as the repetition of a present, will no longer represent a present that would exist elsewhere and prior to it, a present whose plenitude would be older than it, absent from it, and rightfully capable of doing without it’ (1967). On the other hand, Rebecca Schneider suggests that performance can be approached not as that which disappears, but ‘as both the act of remaining and a means of reappearance’ (2001).

Indeed, from Diderot through Stanislavski, a central problem of theatre has been to stage a repetition that is consistent in its emotional effect.  But at the same time, through the repetition of practice, the rehearsed act becomes spontaneous and unthinking – and such is its desired effect, not only within theatre but also other forms of bodily training.  Theatre itself is a terminal form, one that finds a particular ending within each dramatic instance, but in its reception it appears to perform an endless repetition, night after night and season after season. As Zola wrote in 1881, ‘Each winter at the beginning of the theatre season I fall prey to the same thoughts.  A hope springs up in me, and I tell myself that before the first warmth of summer empties the playhouses, a dramatist of genius will be discovered…. Unfortunately, this dream I have every October has not yet been fulfilled, and is not likely to be for some time.  I wait in vain, I go from failure to failure.’

Zola’s repeated visits to the site of his own disappointment is typical of the compulsive structure of desire.  ‘I’ll just keep on/ ’til I get it right,’ sings Tammy Wynette in Ceal Floyer’s audio installation from Documenta 13, and in Exquisite Pain, Sophie Calle tells us: ‘I decided to continue until I got over my pain by comparing it with other people’s or had worn out my own story through sheer repetition’.  As a structuring dynamic in dance, performance art, or the repetitive lists of some theatrical texts, repetition causes the event to slip in and out of the present, insisting on its now-ness at the same time as this present appears always-already to be gone.  For listeners and spectators, these structures can transform their states of attention, absorbing them within the very dynamics being described.

The aim of this issue is to open a dialogue about notions of repetition in all of the above areas, and we invite proposals that reflect on repetition’s philosophical, historical, aesthetical and sociological implications. Contributors may draw from wider fields of thought that address understandings of time, memory, and history (Žižek via Marx’s ‘first as tragedy, then as farce’), or incorporate philosophical and psychoanalytic notions of exhaustion, difference through repetition, processes of becoming, and the possibility of finitude. Contributors may also refer to the Deleuzian investigation of repetition as symptomatic of the contemporary mode of being, as well as the Freudian pathology of repetition.

Themes that proposed contributions might address include, but are not limited to:

•Rhythm, seriality, formal patterns, and structures of attention
•Desire, pleasure, and terror of repeating
•Seduction, enthrallment, obsession, and compulsive repeated viewings
•Acting, re-enactment, and originary repetition; liveness; performance remains; ontology of performance
•Notions of termination and exhaustion, as well as renewal
•Citation and transformation in performance (and theories of performativity); queer repetitions
•Ritual; meditation; mantra; training; life practice
•Economic conditions; affective labour; one-to-one and serial performance
•Repetition, reconstruction, and memory; trauma and repetition; performance practices that engage with these

In addition to full articles, we would also welcome proposals for creative responses to the theme, including responsive writing, textual performances or visual works for the printed page, or other ideas for submissions that work with repetition in their form as well as content.

Proposals:5 December 2014
First Drafts:March 2015
Final Drafts:May 2015
Publication Date:October 2015

ALL proposals, submissions and general enquiries should be sent direct to:

Issue-related enquiries should be directed to the Issue Editors:
Eirini Kartsaki ( and Theron Schmidt (

General Guidelines for Submissions:
• Before submitting a proposal we encourage you to visit our website ( and familiarize yourself with the journal.
•Proposals will be accepted by e-mail (MS-Word or RTF). Proposals should not exceed one A4 side.
•Please include your surname in the file name of the document you send.
•DO NOT send images electronically without prior agreement.
•Submission of a proposal will be taken to imply that it presents original, unpublished work not under consideration for publication elsewhere.
•If your proposal is accepted, you will be invited to submit an article in first draft by the deadline indicated above. On the final acceptance of a completed article you will be asked to sign an author agreement in order for your work to be published in Performance Research.