Performativity Conference 2019

Good news! Our conference’s final program is available now. Check it out below or download the pdf here.

You can also download the book of abstracts here.

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Performativity in Contemporary Culture

Conference Program


Venue: Room 356, School of English and American Studies, Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), 5 Rákóczi street, Budapest, Hungary



Friday, May 24th


09:00-09:45  Registration

09:45-10:00  Opening remarks


10:00-11:00   Panel 3.3. Writing at the Threshold: Liminal Identities

Chair: Péter Kristóf Makai (Linnaeus University, Växjö)

Andrés Guilló (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid): A Study of African-American Rap as Liminal Performance

Ádám Kling (ELTE, Budapest): Shakespeare and Witchcraft in Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602


11:00-11:15   Coffee break


11:15-12:45   Panel 3.2. Writing at the Threshold: Monstrosity

Chair: Andrea Timár (ELTE, Budapest)

Andries Hiskes (Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society): Games of Make-believe: Performativity and the Aesthetics of Appearances in The Elephant Man

Ildikó Limpár (Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest): Voicing Monstrosity and Gender through Storytelling in Theodora Goss’s The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

Mónika Rusvai (University of Szeged): From Creating the Story to Becoming the Story. Tallis’ Creative Journey in Robert Holdstock’s Lavondyss


12:45-14:00   Lunch


14:00-16:00   Panel 2.1. Performing Trauma: The Traumatized Subject

Chair: Lilla Farmasi (University of Szeged)

Réka Szarvas (University of Szeged): “My skin, you see, screams”: Trauma and Memory in Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects

Petra Visnyei (University of Debrecen): Representations of Suppressed Grief and Processing Trauma in Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man

David Rudrum and Kerry Chippendale (University of Huddersfield): On-stage Trauma, Off-stage Trauma, and ‘Distant Reading’: An Analysis of ‘In-Yer-Face Theatre’


16:00-16:15   Coffee Break


16:15-17:45   Panel 3.1. Writing at the Threshold: Rites of Passage

Chair: Zsolt Czigányik (ELTE, Budapest)

Camelia Raghinaru (Concordia University, Irvine, California): Liminal Storytelling in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Here I Am

Anna Bíró-Pentaller (ELTE, Budapest): “The Journey from Daughter to Protector”: the Performativity of Liminal Experiences in Zadie Smith’s NW

Krisztina Kitti Tóth (ELTE, Budapest): Thinking Back Through Our (M)others. Narratable Selves in Michèle Roberts’s Flesh and Blood


19:00   Dinner


Saturday, May 25th


09:30-09:45   Registration


9:45-11:15   Panel 2.2. Performing Trauma: Traumatic Histories

Chair: Katalin Szlukovényi (ELTE, Budapest)

Iulia Campeanu (Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu): (N)ostalgia for Communism in the Romanian Post-communist Novel

Kirsten Møllegaard (University of Hawai’i at Hilo): The Body Text: The Gendered Body and the Performance of Trauma in Two Graphic WWII Memoirs

Kata Gyuris (ELTE, Budapest): Trauma, Performance, and the Tormented Female Body in Lynn Nottage’s Ruined and Eve Ensler’s In the Body of the World


11:15-11:30   Coffee break


11:30-12:30  Closing Remarks and Round Table with the Narratives of Culture and Identity Research Group: Judit Friedrich (academic advisor), Ágnes Harasztos (member) and Eszter Szép (co-founder)

Moderated by Kata Gyuris (co-founder)


13:00   Farewell lunch

















The Narratives of Culture and Identity Research Group

invites you to participate in its conference

Performativity in Contemporary Culture

on May 24-25, 2019

at the School of English and American Studies, ELTE, Budapest


This English-language conference brings together PhD students, scholars and researchers, all dedicated to the study of performativity and performance in various disciplines. We are looking for contributions that innovatively engage with issues of performativity, as well as the diverse functions and uses of performance in contemporary culture.

The presentations will be organized into three thematic panels which tackle issues of performativity from different angles:

  1. Performative Nostalgia in Literatures about Central Europe after Revolutions
  2. Performing Trauma through the Body in Contemporary Literature
  3. “Writing at the Threshold”: the Performativity of Storytelling in Liminal Situations

Please find detailed calls for papers for each panel below. Participants will have 20 minutes to present their papers, followed by extensive group discussion.

Applicants are asked to submit a brief abstract (200-300 words) and a short biography (max. 100 words), both written in English and addressed to one of the three panels described in detail below. Abstracts of your paper with your name and affiliation, as well as any queries, should be directed to until 31 January 2019 15 February 2019. Notification of acceptance: 25 February 2019. Draft papers are to be sent by 30 April 2019 so that we can distribute them among the participants of each panel well before the conference.

Download a pdf version of the cfp from here.




Performative Nostalgia in Literatures about Central Europe after Revolutions

Convenors: Ágnes Harasztos and Péter Kristóf Makai

In her seminal work The Future of Nostalgia (2001), Svetlana Boym wrote that “outbreaks of nostalgia often follow revolutions,” suggesting that historical turning points such as the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet Union constitute a radical break in the emotional landscape of former Eastern Bloc countries. Central to our inquiries is the broadly understood concept of home: the longing for familiar spaces, such as the old home while building the new one, or the family unit inhabiting that home, perhaps reuniting and reminiscing, perhaps unable to keep up with the changes in society and falling apart as a result. These lieux de memoires are notably expressed in the language of English speaking cultures, and thus carry a shade of performative force in this region.  This panel calls for papers investigating the performative aspect of nostalgic affect and tenor in English-speaking literature set in the geopolitical region of Central Europe, a region of fuzzy and ever-shifting boundaries. Proposed papers are welcome to explore the effects and aftermath of revolutionary changes in society from the Treaty of Versailles in 1920 through the Euromaidan clashes of 2014 up to the present, whether political, technological or cultural. The panel invites literary scholars and intermedia researchers who focus on the interaction between literature and other media to explore, analyze, or interrogate the condition and performative qualities of nostalgia as something that ails, haunts, or revives the culture of Central Europe.

Paper submissions are welcome to explore any of the following issues or other closely related topics:

  • the longing for home before and after border revisions
  • people’s emigration and immigration to reconcile personal identity with historical changes
  • affective ties of families torn apart or united by revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe
  • building new homes and/or reconstructing old homes after personal or historical shifts in the region



Performing Trauma through the Body in Contemporary Literature

Convenors: Noémi Albert and Kata Gyuris

 In recent decades, trauma has become one of the most prevalent phenomena in contemporary literature and literary scholarship alike. In Unclaimed Experience, Cathy Caruth asserts that “literature … is interested in the complex relations between knowing and not knowing”, and it is at this intersection that trauma and traumatic encounters seem to find appropriate outlets in the form of artistic expression. The proposed panel focuses on literary depictions of trauma and the various ways in which literature engages with and performs traumatic experiences in and on the human body. First and foremost, we seek answers, building on contemporary literature, as to how traumatic experiences and memories of trauma manifest themselves on the body. Although interconnected, scholarship often differentiates between bodily and mental memories, thus this dichotomy, focused exclusively on personal traumatic memories and their attendant manifestations (such as defamiliarization, repetition, the abject, etc.), proves to be relevant in the investigation of various literary examples, too. We are also interested in portrayals of collective trauma inasmuch as they pertain to bodily sensation and bodily experiences and scrutinize signs of trauma, possibly in their relation to literary expression.

Paper submissions are welcome to explore any of the following issues or other closely related topics:

  • How does literature today present and represent trauma and the body? What performative mechanisms are at play? What novel approaches are there that engage with trauma and the body in innovative ways?
  • How do portrayals of individual and collective trauma differ? Is the difference visible in relation to depictions of the body and bodily experiences?
  • How can we tie rites and various memory practices to trauma and performance in literature?
  • How is bodily trauma or its depiction different from mental trauma?



“Writing at the Threshold”: the Performativity of Storytelling in Liminal Situations

 Convenors: Anna Biró-Pentaller and Krisztina Kitti Tóth

 The metaphor of liminality, or being on the threshold, has become a keyword in cultural and literary theory to refer to experiences of transition and transformation. However, it is yet to be shown how the act of storytelling ‒ stories arising on the threshold ‒ is connected to the experience of liminality; a challenging, often disruptive, but also powerful state that encourages and facilitates creativity and change to come about in the life of the character. Our panel intends to scrutinize storytelling as a performative experience, interrogating how the act of tale-telling opens up and (re)forms identity. The idea of crossover, a transgression or an entry into the Other, stand as the main focus of the panel where storytelling is tied to contemporary rituals: pregnancy, motherhood, initiation rites, coming of age, wedding, bar mitzvah etc. Therefore, we invite proposals focusing particularly on two levels of performativity. That is, we seek to examine how the linguistic performance of the narrator may function as an agency that creates reality, and how the characters experience being on the threshold and relate hypodiegetic tales that affect their ever-changing identities.

Paper submissions are welcome to explore any of the following issues or other closely related topics:

  • the liminal experience of pregnancy and giving birth
  • coming of age narratives
  • performance of the narrator
  • the transformative power of storytelling
  • storytelling as ritual and its role in the creation of identity
  • selfhood and narrative



Painting by Tina Newlove.