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Uncanny Life: Puppets and Other Vibrant Matter

Uncanny Life: Puppets and other Vibrant Matter

This working group will investigate how artists in theatre, literature, and film have conducted vernacular investigations into the liveliness of things, and how these investigations supplement or challenge philosophical, scientific, and political accounts of objecthood and materiality. Recent scholarly turns such as Thing Theory, Object-Oriented Ontology, the New Materialism, and Actor-Network Theory recognize the neglected agencies of matter, the force that things exert in social, scientific, and ecological assemblages. Our working group is, in one sense, an archaeology of these new methods through a “popular” iconography of animate matter: the puppet, the golem, the automaton, the mannequin, and the robot. In a broader sense, we will investigate how the art of the fantastic over the last two centuries has also theorized the relationship between persons, social practices, and the object world.

Our meetings will combine readings and discussions, guest speakers and performances, and the presentation of scholarly and artistic work-in-progress. Our meetings will include sessions with visiting artists Bread & Puppet Theater, Buchty a Loutky (Cakes and Puppets) from the Czech Republic, as well as visiting puppeteers and performers from the Program for the Arts sponsored Canadian object cabarets (Animate Entities, organized by Gabriel Levine).

Leads
Larry Switzky,
UTM English and Drama
Veronika Ambros,
Slavic Studies

Faculty Members at the University of Toronto
Alan Ackerman, UTSG English
T. Nikki Cesare-Schotzko, UTSG Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies
Xin Fang, UTSG Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies
Samir Farooq, Lecturer, Art
Marlene Goldman, UTSC English
Linda Hutcheon, UTSG English and Comparative Literature
Charlie Keil, UTSG Cinema Studies
Tamara Trojanowska, Slavic Studies
Timothy Youker, UTM English & Drama

Faculty Members outside the University of Toronto

Julia Fawcett, English, Ryerson University
Yana Meerzon, Theatre, University of Ottawa
Magda Romaska, Theatre Studies, Emerson College

Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto

Gabriel Levine, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the Jackman Humanities Institute

Graduate Students at the University of Toronto
Christine Smoley, Comparative Literature
Megan Harris, English
Montgomery Martin, Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies and Faculty of Information
Kyle Murdock, English

Professionals
Chris Curreri, visual artist and puppeteer
Cate Kayley, Playwright
Philip McKee, Theatre director and Filmmaker


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