CFP: Popular Entertainments Working Group, IFTR 9-13 July 2018

Type of post: Association news item
Posted By: Glen McGillivray
Status: Current
Date Posted: Wed, 13 Dec 2017

The Popular Entertainments Working Group will be meeting again during the next conference of the International Federation for Theatre Research, 9-13 July, at the University of Arts, Belgrade, Serbia, and invites proposals from scholars, scholar-practitioners, emerging researchers, and those joining the Working Group for the first time. Occasional attendees and members who are not presenting are also welcome to participate.

Call for papers

The Popular Entertainments Working Group invites papers that either engage with the conference theme, or that explore areas of ongoing interest in the study of popular entertainments. In 2018 the Popular Entertainments Working Group is particularly interested in papers which address:

a) popular entertainments as part of the wider ecology of theatre;

b) methodologies used by researchers in the field of popular entertainments; 

c) papers that span a combination of these two;

d) and papers that address the main theme of the 2018 IFTR conference.


Popular entertainments within the ‘legitimate’ theatre ecology

Over its ten-year history the working group has largely been engaged in a project of recuperation, of uncovering varieties of popular entertainment, and of giving them a place ‘at the academic table’, so to speak. As many of the papers presented in the working group indicate, however, popular entertainments are an integral part of theatre ecology.  The working group is interested in papers that bring to light the importance of the popular within ‘high’ art practices, or that provide links between the ‘legitimate’ and the ‘illegitimate’. Topics might include, for example:

  • Transfer of practices between ‘high’ and ‘low’;
  • Performers who work/ed across genres;
  • Technological advances stemming from popular entertainments;
  • The changing status of entertainment/art forms e.g. contemporary circus


The working group is also interested in papers concerning the following:

  • What are appropriate methodologies for research in popular entertainments, given the often highly ephemeral nature of performances and the often limited archival record of them? 
  • What are the common sources/methods used, and what difficulties do these present to the researcher? 
  • What is the ‘archive’?   What are the sources commonly being used within our

practice, and what are the possibilities and limitations?

  • Alternative ‘archives’: what are they, what these might consist of?
  • Approaches to reconstruction of an ephemeral performance practice;
  • Oral histories: possibilities and limitations;
  • ‘Accidental research’: into what strange byways do the limitations of the archive send (or lead) the researcher working in the field of popular entertainments?   

Submission of Abstracts
Abstracts of 250-300 words should be submitted no later than 15 January 2018. Please specify ‘Popular Entertainments’ working group when submitting your abstract at:
The full text of participants’ papers (no more than 5000 words) should be emailed to the convenors as a Word attachment by 10 June 2017. Papers will then be distributed to members of the group for reading and a discussant will be allocated to each.
Structure of Working Group Meetings
The Popular Entertainments Working Group operates by circulating members’ draft papers (up to 5000 words in length) in advance of the conference, enabling a more focused discussion at our meetings. Once papers are circulated (usually a month prior to the conference), participants are then asked to nominate another paper they’d like to moderate. At our meetings during the conference, we allocate approximately twenty minutes for discussion of each paper. Members are asked to speak about their research for ten minutes; visual or AV material that amplifies or supports their paper in some way is encouraged. (As all papers are read in advance, presenters are not required to provide an oral summary of their paper.) The moderator previously assigned to the paper will then lead the remaining ten minutes of discussion.

The joint convenors of the Popular Entertainments Working Group are Dr Gillian Arrighi, Senior Lecturer, School of Creative Industries, University of Newcastle, Australia and

Dr Mikael Strömberg, University of Gothenburg, Sweden