Performance studies is an interdisciplinary field that studies
Performance Studies has been challenged as an emerging discipline. Many academics have been critical of its instability. As an academic field it is difficult to pin down; either that is the nature of the field itself or it is still too young to tell. There are, however, numerous degree-granting programs that train researchers being offered by universities. Some have referred to it as an "inter discipline" or a "post discipline".
Performance Studies tends to concentrate on a mix of research methods. The application of practice-led or practice-based research methods has become a widespread phenomenon not just in the anglophone world. As such research projects integrate established methods like literature research and oral history with performance practice, i.e. artistic autoethnographic approaches and verbatim theatre. The documentation of Practice-as-Research in Performance (PARIP), a devoted research project conducted at the University of Bristol between 2001 and 2006, offers a number of inspiring articles and portraits of such research projects and was key for a breakthrough of using creative thinking within this subject field.
Richard Schechner, author of Performance Studies: An Introduction, states that Performance Studies examine performances in two categories: Artistic and Cultural Performances. A. Artistic Performance are marked and understood as art. solo-performance, performance art, performance of literature, theatrical storytelling, plays, and performance poetry, This category considers performance as the art form. B. Cultural Performance includes events that occur in everyday life in which a culture's values are displayed for their perpetuation: rituals such as parades, religious ceremonies, community festivals, controversial storytelling, and performances of social and professional roles, and individual performances of race, gender, sexuality and class.
Performance Studies as an academic field has multiple origin narratives. On the theatrical and anthropological front, this origin is often regarded as the research collaborations of director
On the literature front, Wallace Bacon (1914–2001), considered by many to be the father of performance theory, taught the performance of literature as the ultimate act of humility. In his defining statement of performance theory, "Our center is in the interaction between readers and texts which enriches, extends, clarifies, and (yes) alters the interior and even the exterior lives of students [and performers and audiences] through the power of texts" (Literature in Performance, Vol 5 No 1, 1984; p. 84). In addition, Robert Breen's text
An alternative origin narrative stresses the development of
Rosa Parkssat in the front of the bus, she had no prior right to do so guaranteed by any…conventions of the South. And yet, in laying claim to the right for which she had no prior authorization, she endowed a certain authority on the act, and began the insurrectionary process of overthrowing those established codes of legitimacy.
The question of the infelicitous utterance (the misfire) is also taken up by Shoshana Felman when she states "Infelicity, or failure, is not for Austin an accident of the performative, it is inherent in it, essential to it. In other words…Austin conceives of failure not as external but as internal to the promise, as what actually constitutes it."
Performance studies has also had a strong relationship to the fields of feminism,