Performance (Part I)

Madison and Hamera (2006) consider performance a “contested concept.” Performance is not only a contested concept in terms of what qualities help to define a performance, but also a contested concept in regards to the enactment of a performance. Performance manifests and is enacted in a variety of ways, and it is not necessarily bound to particular definition of a particular culture. Japanese people may not consider that which Americans consider performance as an act of performance. Additionally, people continually perform ordinary and routine functions of day-to-day life (Madison & Hamera, 2006). However, some may not consider these performances a Performance with a capital P.

Performance is a “contested concept,” because of the varying disagreements, conceptualizations, definitions, and methods held by various cultures throughout the world. The competing uses of performance challenges and expands the conceptualization of performance. By recognizing that performance is a contested concept, disagreement is then an expectation. This expectation resonates in both the interpretation and critical examination of performance, and it is an expectation when discussing subjective impressions of a performance (Madison & Hamera, 2006). Performance is a contested concept, because there is not a right or wrong conceptualization, impression, or reaction to a performance.

Six Arguments for Performative Writing:

Pelias (2005) has six arguments for performative writing. Jones (1997) and Lindemann (2004) demonstrate two of the six arguments. The first argument of performative writing is that it redefines what defines scholarship. Performative writing situates itself within scholarly and relational writing, but it challenges scholarly writing and pushes it edges (Pelias, 2005). Performative writing relives a real experience, and thus performative writing provides qualitative and quantitative evidence (Pelias, 2005). Performative writing elicits an emotional response, it acknowledges that the world is constructed through several realities, and embodies the political constructs as a personal motive, goal, and need (Pelias, 2005).

Jones (1997) provides a perfect example of Pelias’s notion of the personal manifesting as the political. Through Jones’s performance, scholarship, and credentials that which is personal is inherently a political endeavor. Jones shows the limits of affirmative action. Her performance not only entertains, but also provides a political platform for lower-power groups. She is both speaking about a marginalized group and from a marginalized group. Likewise, Lindemann (2004) also demonstrates one of Pelias’s arguments. Although not necessarily the goal of Lindemann’s piece, the audience sees that the world is a social construct altered by varying realities. Through my own written response, Lindemann allowed me to create and perform as an audience member while adding nuance to how we define masculine, and/or resist the definition of masculine as defined by the master narrative…

For citation and copyright purposes, the author of the post is Cymatic Discourse. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Thank you for reading – C.D.


Jones, J. L. (1997). Sista docta: Performance as critique of the academy. TRD, 41(2), 51-67.

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Lindemann, K. (2004). Tales of an amateur magician: Embodying grief, loss, and masculinity

through performative writing. Kaleidoscope: A Graduate Journal of Qualitative

Communication Research, 3, 63-69.

Madion, D. S., & Hamera, J. (2006). Introduction: Performance Studies at the Intersections.

In Madison, & J. Hamera (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of performance studies. (pp. xi-1).

Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi:10.4135/9781412976145

Miller, L. C., & Taylor, J. (2006). The constructed self: Strategic and aesthetic choices in

autobiographical performance. In D. Madison, & J. Hamera (Eds.), The SAGE handbook

of performance studies. (pp. 169-188). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.


Pelias, R. J. (2005). Performative writing as scholarship: An apology, an argument, an

anecdote. Critical Studies, Critical Methodologies, 5(4), 415-424. doi:10.1177/










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