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Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
The goal of the editors of Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies is to “address three needs in performance studies scholarship and practice: 1) expanding opportunities to share peer-reviewed work, 2) creating a space for the publication of multimedia texts and projects that are difficult or impossible to publish in traditional print venues, and 3) international accessibility.” They hope to “explore, advance, challenge, and celebrate the study of performance as a social, political, philosophical, and aesthetic practice; as a methodology; and as a mode of critique.” To that end, they seek submissions “addressing performance, the performative, and performativity; performance scripts and aesthetic texts for performance; reviews and criticism of performance work; works about pedagogy and performance; and book reviews.” The editorial board is made up of academics and independent artists and scholars. In addition to text and images the journal publishes works in html, mp3, Quicktime, and Flash formats; their instructions to authors includes specifications for manuscripts, audio projects, video projects, Web-based projects (HTML, Flash, ASP, PHP, etc.), Recurring Series, and book reviews. Three to four issues of the journal are published each year.
This is not your average academic journal, so it will take some time to describe, but it is worth taking some time over this journal. The most recent issue available, a combined issue [volume 10, issues 3 & 4 (2014)], offers five thought- and emotion-provoking essays: “Ghosts of Memory: Mournful Performance and the Rhetorical Event of Haunting (Or: Specters of Occupy),” “The Reality of Contingency: Performance as Materialized Trope and the Theorization of Rupture,” “Say Nothing. Say Anything. Do Something: Expressing the Ineffable in Performance Poetry,” “On a Multiplicity: Deconstructing Cartesian Dualism Using Mathematical Tools in Performance,” and “Concrete and Dust: A Performative Response”; along with the website project, “How Antoine Dodson and the Bed Intruder Keep Climbin’ in Our Windows: Viral Video Appropriation as Performance,” which describes how “viral videos have significant cultural implications.” The author uses a combination of text, imbedded videos, graphs, and charts to explore her subject, “show[ing] the complex ways that a single news story has been appropriated by a variety of Web 2.0 users on just one online platform, and how these adaptations might work to subvert and/or perpetuate racial, class, and gender stereotypes.” It’s well worth a look.
But that’s not all that’s in the issue. There’s another entire section, called “On Poetry Worlds,” with six essays arranged around that theme. The section’s guest editors notes their indebtedness to “sociologist Howard Becker (1982) and his concept of ‘art worlds’ for the concept of ‘poetry world,” and go on to define ‘poetry world’ as “an emergent cultural constellation of individuals who come together around a particular form of poetic activity in particular times, places and spaces.” The other five essays in the section then examine various poetry worlds: “Border Disputes: Spoken Word and Its Humble Critics,” “Voicing Diverse Working Class Sentiment and Bringing Poetry to Life: The Contribution of San Diego’s Millennial Poetry Crews,” “From Slam to Def Poetry Jam: Spoken Word Poetry and its Counterpublics,” “On Out of Focus Nuyoricans, Noricuas, and Performance Identities,” and “Prospecting with the ‘Poetry Pioneers’: Youth Poetry Slam and the U.K.’s WordCup.” As I said, this is not your typical academic journal, but it discusses timely, and fascinating, new methods of artistic expression.
Past issues offer up essays accompanied by videos (“Cyborg Phenomenology: Performative Inquiry in a Technoscientific World”), “Song of the Nightingale” (“an 8mm collage film that explores relationships among presence and obsolescence”), “Circles,” (a powerful video and text piece that the artist characterizes as “a performative tool that aids viewers in rehearsing for acts of resistance to gender normativity,” “Where’s Queerdo? Disabling Perceptions!” (a video and essay that “explores the intersections of disability and queerness), and an eclectic set of six book reviews (of Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation , The Ghosts of the Avant-Garde(s): Exorcising Experimental Theater and Performance, Refugee Performance: Practical Encounters, Stage Turns: Canadian Disability Theatre, Research Methods in Theatre and Performance, and The Face of America: Plays for Young People).
Liminalities: a Journal of Performance Studies is an important title that librarians will want to bring to the attention of anyone interested in, and open to, performance studies, gender and queer studies, poetry and literature, and related disciplines. A well-produced and well-realized open access journal for the arts and social sciences.