CfP deadline extended to 1st February; Glorious Outsiders: Queer Pasts and Futures in Irish Performance NUI Galway, 14-15 April 2020

Call for Papers:

Glorious Outsiders: Queer Pasts and Futures in Irish Performance

National University of Ireland, Galway
O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance
14-15 April 2020

Keynote Speakers:

Dr Fintan Walsh (Birkbeck, University of London)

Prof. Hélène Lecossois (University of Lille)

Dr Cormac O’Brien (University College Dublin)

Irish theatre has a particularly rich relationship with queerness, a performance culture brimful of moments when society’s regular rules become suspended on stage and audiences can, as Alyson Campbell and Stephen Farrier have phrased it in Queer Dramaturgies (2016), thereby find themselves “queerly moved”. Casting an historical eye, Susan Cannon Harris stresses in Irish Drama and Other Revolutions (2017) that Irish theatre had already at the end of the 19th century a remarkable gay subculture and queer aesthetic by virtue of the influence of London’s queer activism of the 1890s. An inherent relationship between transgressive anti-normative temperaments and the performing arts is always already present, as theatre perpetually offers something which is ungraspable, undecipherable, thus exceeding the logic and patriarchal authority of language. But despite the undeniable presence of queer subjectivities in both modern and contemporary Irish theatre and their seminal role in including gay lives and queer corporealities in the frameworks of recognition, there is still a limited focus on these multitudinous social, cultural and political aspects of Irish theatre and performance.

In light of this rich stew of queer theatrical heritage, “‘Glorious Outsiders’: Queer Pasts and Futures in Irish Performance” is a two-day conference which seeks to bring together theatre practitioners and scholars of Irish theatre and performance, who are working on representations of queerness, gender, and dissident sexualities in order to interrogate and renegotiate the queer and anti-(hetero)normative potential of modern and contemporary Irish theatre. The primary focus of the conference is the exploration of queer subjectivities in Irish performance, but it also draws on a more expansive notion of queer “as a force of disruption that simultaneously draws on historical genealogies of queer and freshly imagines ‘queer’ in the contemporary moment,” as Clare Croft articulates in Queer Dance (2015). In a post-Marriage Equality Ireland and with the recent digitisation projects in Irish theatre studies, the time seems ripe to re-examine and ask questions as to what queer performance means in contemporary Ireland. Just exactly how can we queer the canon – both mainstream and fringe—and Irish theatre historiography in general, thereby exploring how modern Irish theatre also contributed to the representation of queer lives? As Alyson Campbell and Stephen Farrier have stated, we are never over queer, and it is always vital to recalibrate what queer performance means and does and how the dancing, silent, talking or singing queer body can perform its histories and futures, its vicissitudes and hurts, its dreams and desires as well as its vulnerabilities and transformative energies on the Irish stage.

Relating to modern and contemporary Irish theatre and performance and other forms of performances, proposals for 20-minute papers and practice-based presentations may wish to consider (but are not limited to):

– Dramaturgies of exclusion and inclusion
– Melancholia, loss, insult, marginality, contemplation, shame, excess
– Queer alliances, courtships, flirtations, friendships
– Femininities and masculinities
– Gender and sexual nonconformities
– Performativity, camp performance, cabaret, activism
– Scenography, photography and film
– Dissidence/resistance/transgression versus assimilation
– Northern Irish gay identities in performance
– Representations of strangeness and the ‘other’
– Ancient Greece and Greek love
– Dance, ballet, opera, music
– Transnational and transcultural influences
– Trans and non-binary identities
– Liquidity, fluidity, plasticity
– Fragmentation and rupture
– Sapphisms, lesbian intimacies and desires
– Religions and spirituality
– Disability, age, illness
– Nationality, citizenship, class, race
– Queer archives

Submissions are open to all academics, activists, PhDs and artists. Please submit a short abstract and bio to Zsuzsanna Balázs at by 15 January 2020.

Zsuzsanna Balázs (IRC Scholar, O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, NUIG)
Temmuz Süreyya Gürbüz (Galway Doctoral Scholar, Huston School of Film, NUIG)
Daniela Toulemonde (IRC Scholar, Department of Spanish, NUIG)