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Performance and the ritual of consumption

September 25, 2012

Social Sciences, room 109

Rachel Bowditch, assistant professor of theatre and film at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and Kevin Sandler, associate professor and director of internships in the Film and Media Studies Program, will present on “Performance and the Ritual of Consumption” as the first installment in the Institute for Humanities Research 2012-2013 Faculty Seminar Series.

This year’s Faculty Seminar Series is centered on “The Humanities and the Value of Performance.” From notions of mediated performance within literary, filmic, musical and dramatic discourse, to ideas about the ethics, politics and the rhetoric of performance, and the cultural, historical, and religious impact and implication of performance, the humanities contributes important and compelling research for understanding one of the root endeavors that makes us human.

Over the course of three dates, we will hear from six ASU faculty members whose research encompasses aspects of performance within artistic and creative practice and cultural theoretical discourse.

Not For Sale: Burning Man and the Gift Economy – Rachel Bowditch

Since 1986 Burning Man has evolved from Larry Harvey’s personal healing ritual into a contemporary cultural phenomenon where ritual, religion, visual art and performance collide on an epic scale. In 2011, Burning Man sold out for the first time marking a significant transition in the history of the event – the demand far exceeds the supply.

Operating as a "gift economy," Burning Man has an ambiguous relationship with commerce capitalizing on terms such as ‘transformational experience,’ ‘participation,’ ‘community’ and ‘radically inclusive’ that have market value in the ‘experience economy.’ Burning Man offers a commodified ritual experience in ‘participatory culture,’ mutating and transforming from community to community, yet also remaining recognizable as Burning Man – a brand as distinct as any other.

Performing Product Placement: The iPad integration in ABC's Modern Family – Kevin Sandler

To enliven their mockumentary-style ABC comedy about three interrelated families and their experiences, creators Christopher Lloyd and Steve Levitan of “Modern Family” often include references to popular culture to ground their show in the contemporary reality of American life. In one episode, “Game Changer,” the creators constructed an episode around the launch of Apple’s iPad two days before the device was released on April 3, 2010.  “Modern Family” illustrates the ways that industrial and cultural forces surrounding product integration are shaping the form of television texts and performance, largely with the support of creators and viewers. What is the ‘value of performance’ when it becomes market-driven rather than character-driven?

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The Institute for Humanities Research is a unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.