History, Performativity, and Dialectics: Critical Spectatorship in Learning Disabled Performance

David Calvert

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In this chapter, the author aims to follow a critical approach to the understanding of learning disability within performance studies. He also aims to consider how social and historical perceptions of intellectual disability in relation to performance continue to shape and delimit the possibilities for reading performance. The author set out how learning disability has been historically constructed as an identity. The aesthetics of learning disability in performance therefore strain the limits of non-disabled spectatorship. The focus on Baldwin's performativity, as a generative capacity to influence a situation in his own interests, not only offers a dialectical contradiction to the historical conception of learning disability as non-performative, but also undermines conventional dramatic tropes of disability representation. Dialectical progression for Hegel begins with an internal contradiction that demands resolution, between an originating idea and its confounding opposite. The sedimented history of learning disability is bound up with the interplay between the social and the aesthetic, the performative and the dialectical.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Disability Arts, Culture and Media
EditorsBree Hadley, Donna McDonald
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781351254687
ISBN (Print)9780815368410, 9780367659660
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2018

Publication series

NameRoutledge International Handbooks


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