Call for Papers


Call for Papers - 2024 Special Issues

Check out the following calls for papers for our 2024 issues on "Abolition and Performance" (deadline Dec. 1, 2023) and "Care" (deadline Feb. 1, 2024).


Theatre Journal

Special Issue for September 2024

“Abolition and Performance”

Call for Papers

In the US, calls for prison abolition have gained momentum in recent years and have reinforced the distinction between reform (developing less violent methods of policing, for example) and abolition (creating a world where policing is not necessary). Abolition as an alternative to reform animates many justice movements that seek to eradicate structural inequality. Abolitionist geographer Ruth Wilson Gilmore, a self-described “drama school doctoral-program dropout,” integrates political and artistic labors, noting, via Karl Marx, that “By mixing our labor with the earth, we change the external world and thereby change our own nature. That’s what drama is; that’s what geography is: making history, making worlds.”(1) The notion that performance is world-making, as advanced in the formative scholarship of Dorinne Kondo, is moving quickly from a galvanizing and activating premise to a given (though no less radical) assumption for scholars of theatre, performance, and dance studies. Kondo’s theory (2) entwines aesthetic, social, and political domains of experience and integrates analysis of artistic and cultural production into a larger project of naming and resisting the ongoing devastations of what Gilmore calls never-not racial capitalism. For this special issue on “Abolition and Performance,” Theatre Journal invites submissions that consider how abolition and its historical and theoretical concerns of the plantation, carcerality, and liberation shift our understandings of performance as world-making, un-making, and re-making.

Plantation logics and their afterlives in the criminal punishment system rely upon regimes of authority that enact subordination, incapacitation, and extraction intended towards world-ending. We could, alongside Katherine McKittrick and others, think of these regimes as choreographies of space, time, bodies, energy, and breath.(3) Sociopolitical engines of the plantationocene – labor extraction, racialization, and capital accumulation – intersect histories of performance and their aesthetics and economies. Simultaneously, we could pay attention to what McKittrick has called “plantation futures.”(4) In such futures-lived-now, the plantation, the prison, and other spaces of enclosure may not always be separable from affirmative instantiations of sovereignty for oppressed peoples. Carceral aesthetics, as recently developed by Nicole R. Fleetwood, is one example of holding both the violences and futures of these sites together.(5) For this special issue, we ask how might performance offer insights into relations of freedom and un-freedom; practices of thingification, disposability, and non-humanity; enactments of property, ownership, and communality; and reassertions of white supremacy, such as white deputization? What are the relationships between performance and organizing, protesting, policing, the criminal punishment system, and alternative structures of justice? Abolition discourse often emphasizes class struggle and its interlocking alignments with racial, gender, and sexual liberation, coming out of the Black Radical tradition and its thinkers’ and movers’ relationships to global Black freedom movements, such as W.E.B. DuBois’s call for abolition democracy during the Reconstruction Era. Criminalization and incarceration disproportionately impact Black and Indigenous people in the Americas and are widespread tools for asserting hierarchies of dominance globally as part of the afterlives of both slavery and colonialism. As the “intimacies” of globalization, following Lisa Lowe, touch myriad geographies, temporalities, and socialities, so too does abolition travel, overlapping in rhetorical and political usage with anticolonization.(6)

Abolition movements, practices, legislation, resistance, figures, and events are all of relevance to this call, and the journal welcomes submissions with transnational frameworks, understanding the project of liberation to be a broad one that is nonetheless articulated in specific times and places using the resources available.

This special issue will be edited by Theatre Journal coeditor Ariel Nereson. We will consider both full length essays for the print edition (6,000-9,000 words) as well as proposals for short provocations, video and/or photo essays, and other creative, multimedia material for our online platform (500-2,000 words). For information about submission, visit:

Submissions for the print journal (6,000-9,000 words) and for the online platform (500-2,000 words) should reach us no later than December 1, 2023.

Submit via ScholarOne:

Editor Ariel Nereson ( and Online Editor Tarryn Chun ( welcome questions and inquiries.


1 Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Abolition Geography: Essays Towards Liberation (Brooklyn: Verso, 2022), 26, 28.

2 Dorinne Kondo, World-Making: Race, Performance, and the Work of Creativity (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018).

3 Katherine McKittrick, Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006).

4 Katherine McKittrick, “Plantation Futures,” Small Axe 17, no. 3 (2013): 1-15. For plantations as sites of sovereignty and futurity, see also Eve Dunbar, “Genres of Enslavement: Ruptured Temporalities of Black Unfreedom and the Resurfacing Plantation” (The South Atlantic Quarterly 121, no. 1 [2022]: 53-73) and Julius B. Fleming Jr., “Transforming Geographies of Black Time: How the Free Southern Theater Used the Plantation for Civil Rights Activism” (American Literature 91, no. 3 [2019]: 587-617).

5 Nicole R. Fleetwood, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2020).

6 Lisa Lowe, The Intimacies of Four Continents (Durham: Duke University Press, 2015). For another transnational framework of the afterlives of slavery and colonialism, see Rinaldo Walcott, On Property: Policing, Prisons, and the Call for Abolition (Windsor, Ontario: Biblioasis, 2021).




Theatre Journal

Special Issue for December 2024

“Care, Carework, and Performance”

Call for Papers

In this post-2020 moment, care has become “a keyword of our time” as seen in an explosion of special issues, anthologies, and conferences in theatre and performance studies, of which ATHE’s 2023 conference, “Building from the Rubble: Centering Care,” serves as just one iteration.(1) As Hi‘ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart (Kānaka Maoli) and Tamara Kneese explain, care gained traction in the US when cultural workers and scholars sought to cope with their grief in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election.(2) This trend intensified during the Covid-19 pandemic in response to failing infrastructures of public health, governance, and education.(3) Care also became increasingly urgent as a response to the forces of neoliberal violence. As Phaedra C. Pezzulo explains, “If neoliberalism is the zeitgeist of contemporary politics—championing hierarchies of capitalist individualism, hypermasculine competition, xenophobic border policing, white settler colonialism, anti-Black racism, fascist propaganda, petrochemical extractivism, and more—then care is the structure of feeling, emerging in resistance.”(4) Pezzulo indicates that the line between care and resistance can be easily blurred even as she suggests the incipient failure of care as a means to counteract these overlapping systems of violence and harm. How does this “structure of feeling” play out in performance? How to theorize practices of care in critical, historical, and material terms? How to center the radical potential of care while also critiquing its capacities for academic extraction from Black feminist thought, Indigenous studies, disability studies, and queer theory? How might theatre, dance, and performance studies contribute to a strengthening and sharpening of care(work) as a theoretical and/or historiographical lens through its emphasis on collective artistic labor? How might theatre and dance historians interpret archives differently through the lens of care and carework?(5) How might performances that center kinship across species intervene in systems of carelessness? This special issue seeks to deepen these questions. We invite submissions that explore explorations of care, carework, and performance in conversation with Black feminist thought, Indigenous studies, critical race studies, disability studies, queer and trans* theory, transnational feminism, ecocriticism, and animal studies (among other frameworks). We especially invite analyses of theatre, dance, and performance that are attuned to the labor of care and how those labors have been understood and iterated differently across historical eras and geographies. This special issue seeks promiscuous engagement with a wide range of interlocutors to help ensure that our field contributes to and expands a burgeoning interdisciplinary movement.

This special issue will be edited by Theatre Journal editor Laura Edmondson. We will consider both full-length essays for the print edition (6,000–9,000 words), as well as proposals for short provocations, video and/or photo essays, and other creative, multimedia material for our online platform (500–2,000 words). For information about submissions, visit

Submissions for both the print journal and the online platform should reach us by no later than February 1, 2024.

Submit via ScholarOne:

Editor Laura Edmondson welcomes questions and inquiries at

1 In 2019, Performance Studies International announced that its 2020 conference (later canceled) would focus on “Crises of Care,” then, in March 2020, Manchester University Press released the anthology Performing Care, edited by UK theatre and performance scholars James Thompson and Amanda Stuart Fisher. The panels and working sessions at the 2022 annual American Society of Theatre Research conference, “Catastrophe,” were filled with references to care and carework as if to mitigate the rhetoric of disaster (see, for example, See also the 2023 issue of Performance Research, “On Care,” co-edited by Felipe Cervera, Helena Grehan & Kristof van Baarle. The description of the 2023 ATHE conference can be found at

2 Hi‘ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart and Tamara Kneese, “Radical Care: Survival Strategies for Uncertain Times,” Social Text 38, no. 1 (2020): 1-16.

3 See, for example, Dean Spade, Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next) (London: Verso, 2020).

4 Phaedra C. Pezzullo, “Resisting Carelessness,” Review of The Care Manifesto: The Politics of Interdependence, by The Care Collective, Cultural Studies 36, no. 3 (2022), 507-509, quote on 507.

5 See, for example, Ariel Nereson’s “Dancing Plague: Archives of Celebration and Care in Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane's Secret Pastures.” Theatre Journal Vol. 74, No. 4 (December 2022): 485-505.




Submissions are always welcome for the journal’s general issues.

Submission FAQs

1.     How often can I publish an essay in Theatre Journal?

An author may be published in the journal no more frequently than once every two years.

2.     Can I have an essay published in Theatre Topics in the same year as Theatre Journal?

While the two journals are independent, it is best to space submissions to them so that essays by the same person are not appearing in the two journals at the same time.

3.     If my essay is rejected by Theatre Journal when can I try to submit another essay to Theatre Journal?

An author must wait a year before submitting a subsequent essay to Theatre Journal.

4.     My essay is about a single production. Will this affect its chances of being accepted?

Yes: Theatre Journal tends not to publish essays on a single play or production. Exceptions are occasionally made when essays explore a very broad and well-contextualized understanding of a moment or an aspect of performance or when the assessment of a single production is a springboard to a larger argument.

5.     My essay is about a single play. It is a deep and thorough reading of that play. Would Theatre Journal be interested in that?

As with the answer to the question above, Theatre Journal tends not to publish essays on a single play unless they use that exploration to reinterpret the play or the author’s oeuvre, etc. Such an essay would need to demonstrate a very thorough knowledge of the ways in which the play has been read to that point.

6.     My essay doesn’t deal very much with theatricality or performance. Will this be a problem?

Theatre Journal is interested in performance aspects first and foremost so it is very important that essays engage with theatricality.

7.     My essay is very historically focused. Is it true that Theatre Journal privileges contemporary work?

Theatre Journal publishes the best essays relating to theatre and performance, regardless of era. Historical essays that are not accepted may deal with a specific moment in time without any indication of how that moment matters to a broad theatre readership.

8.     Do I need to send in an abstract to get the editors’ approval before submitting an essay?

No, please do not submit an abstract: we prefer to read the full essay and make an assessment on that basis. If your essay is accepted, we will ask for an abstract then.

9.     How many images can I expect to include in an accepted essay?

We can publish roughly five images per essay, but images are not essential. We urge authors to include only high quality images that contribute to the essay’s argument.

In some instances, depending on the topic, more images may be necessary and we deal with such matters on a case by case basis. The online platform can support images that are not able to be included in the print version. This platform can also support other forms of illustration/supporting material. Any images there are in color, while images in the print version are black and white.

As ever, it is the author’s responsibility to secure the high-quality images, the permissions, and to pay any cost for them.

10.  How many images can I expect to include in an accepted performance review?

There is a maximum of two images per performance review, unless the review covers a festival.

As with essays, it may be possible for additional images to be uploaded to the online platform.

11.  How often can I write a performance/book review?

An author can contribute one performance review and one book review per calendar year.

12.  How often do the roles of Co-Editor, Editor, Online Editor and Book/Performance Review Editors turn over?

The Co-Editor has a two year term, followed by two years as Editor (four years total). The Online, Book and Performance Reviews Editors have three year terms. Calls for applications for these positions appear through ATHE approximately 6 months before the previous terms expire.

13.  What is the function of the online platform?

The online platform extends the print journal and provides an exciting space for creative research that engages with multimedia and digital opportunities, such as video and photo essays, podcasts, documentaries, rehearsal footage, video interviews, etc. It is also a space where we can publish supplementary material that can’t be contained between the print covers (charts, extra illustrations, video clips, podcasts, etc). Through the online platform, the Editors can also communicate with readers about news from the team and from the field.

14.  Can I propose to edit or co-edit a special issue of Theatre Journal?

While Theatre Journal has two special issues per year, the Co-Editor and Editor edit these. The journal doesn’t normally bring on guest editors. If you have a topic that you feel the journal should consider, please speak to one of the editors. 

15.  How can I have my say?

Please speak to one of the editors either at a conference or via email:

E. J. Westlake:

Sean Metzger: