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Illuminates the historical and aesthetic relationship of print to avant-garde performance


Taking up the work of prominent theater and performance artists, Beyond Text reveals the audacity and beauty of avant-garde performance in print. With extended analyses of the works of Edward Gordon Craig, German expressionist Lothar Schreyer, the Living Theatre, Carolee Schneemann, and Guillermo Gómez-Peña, the book shows how live performance and print aesthetically revived one another during a period in which both were supposed to be in a state of terminal cultural decline. While the European and American avant-gardes did indeed dismiss the dramatic author, they also adopted print as a theatrical medium, altering the status, form, and function of text and image in ways that continue to impact both the performing arts and the book arts.
Beyond Text participates in the ongoing critical effort to unsettle conventional historical and theoretical accounts of text-performance relations, which have too often been figured in binary, chronological (“from page to stage”), or hierarchical terms. Across five case studies spanning twelve decades, Beyond Text demonstrates that print—as noun and verb—has been integral to the practices of modern and contemporary theater and performance artists.

Jennifer Buckley is Associate Professor of English, University of Iowa.

​“By delineating the numerous relationships print can assume to performance, Beyond Text opens up new ways of looking at, thinking about, and appreciating familiar performance works and artists as well as some less familiar ones.”
—Philip Auslander, Georgia Institute of Technology

“Well researched, clearly written, engaged in current debates, and compelling in its argumentation, Beyond Text makes an important and overdue contribution to the fields of theatre, literary, performance and cultural studies. It will also speak to art historians and design scholars and anyone interested in the history of the book as a cultural artifact.”
—James M. Harding, University of Maryland

"Performance’s relationship to print is, in other words, typically Janus-faced. The playscript generates a performance, and the archive preserves its paper traces, but ultimately, neither is considered the thing itself. And yet, from the earliest days of the historical avant-garde, artists have sought to move beyond this bind, to imagine new ways of using print and text within performance. Two new monographs, Jennifer Buckley’s Beyond Text: Theater and Performance in Print After 1900 and Heidi R. Bean’s Acts of Poetry: American Poets’ Theater and the Politics of Performance, bring these artistic experiments to the fore."
-- Los Angeles Review of Books

- Elizabeth Wiet

"By shifting our attention from the page of the dramatic author to the print of the theatre and performance artist, Buckley opens new territory for performance scholars interested in book history. Beyond Text will inspire more of us to follow Buckley into the archives in order to ask how materiality and performance conspire together beyond the avant-garde and into the twenty-first century."
-Matthew Franks, Modern Drama

- Modern Drama

"Any readers who approach Beyond Text with the preconception that it retreads familiar scholarly territory on 'the page and the stage' will swiftly recognize their error, as Buckley points performance scholarship in thrilling new directions."

- Rebecca Kastleman

Winner: 2020 Outstanding Book Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education | 05/18/2020
Read: Reviewed in The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory | 6/14/2020
Read: Reviewed in Modern Drama | 12/14/2020