Between Text & Performance


A Multidisciplinary Conference at the University of Chicago

May 8-10, 2009
Fulton Recital Hall, Department of Music
Goodspeed Hall, University of Chicago
1010 East 59th Street, Chicago, IL 60637 USA

Sponsored by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and
The Franke Institute for the Humanities

The conference aims to investigate the multifarious relationships that emerge between texts and performances across a wide range of art forms and media. This formulation immediately raises questions: can a distinction between text and performance be maintained? If so, under what theoretical and disciplinary conditions? Can the act of writing a text be construed as performative? Can the repetitive and reproductive tropes of performers be understood as textual? How do issues of materiality and temporality affect the constitution of a text and the rituals of its manifestation on stage or screen?

These issues have been tackled by individual scholars in the realms of music (especially opera), literature, cinema, theatre, dance, and media studies, but they have rarely had the chance to speak directly to one another across disciplinary borders. The conference aims, therefore, not only to establish terms for negotiations between text and performance, but also to develop a rich, multi-faceted range of approaches that reflect our panelists’ wealth of expertise. We anticipate that the connections and dialogues—both foreseen and otherwise—that emerge when our group of internationally renowned scholars comes together will make this conference a fascinating and enjoyable event for all participants.

Conference Chair
Philip Gossett

Roger Moseley

Keynote Speakers
Robert Levin
David H. Bell

Mark Franko
Matthew Jesse Jackson
Steve Jones
Jeffrey Kallberg
Martin Puchner
Lesley Stern
Tiffany Stern

Peter Shultz

All events are free and open to the public.

Friday May 8

7:30 PM: Keynotes
* Robert Levin (Harvard University), “Text and the Volatility of Spontaneous Performance”
* David H. Bell (Northwestern University), “How Shakespeare’s Text Shifts in the Creation of Music Theatre Adaptations”

Saturday, May 9

10:30 AM: Stage and Screen Panel
* Martin Puchner (Columbia University), “What is a Dramatic Text?”
* Tiffany Stern (University College, Oxford), “‘I Have Both the Note, and Dittie About Me’: Songs on the Early Modern Stage”
* Lesley Stern (University of California, San Diego), “‘I’ve Got the Blues, Gonna Pack My Things and Go’: Music as Text in Charles Burnett’s Cinema”

2:30 PM: Music Panel
* Philip Gossett (University of Chicago), “The Written and the Sung: Ornamenting Il barbiere di Siviglia”
* Jeffrey Kallberg (University of Pennsylvania), “Mechanical Chopin”
* Roger Moseley and Members of the Historically Inspired Musical Improvisation Workshop (University of Chicago), “Mozart in maschera”

Sunday, May 10

10:30 AM, Art/Media/Dance Panel
* Mark Franko (UC Santa Cruz), “Notation, Reconstruction, and Reinvention in Dance”
* Christopher P. Heuer (Princeton University), Matthew Jesse Jackson (University of Chicago), and Andrew Perchuk (Getty Research Institute) present Our Literal Speed
* Steven E. Jones (Loyola University, Chicago), “Performing the Social Text; Or, What I Learned from Playing Spore”

Please contact Roger Moseley ( or Peter Shultz ( with any queries.
Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance should e-mail or call Carl Nash at or (773) 702-7423.