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  • TDR Comment:I Would Have Liked to Give a Paper at this Conference
  • Jessica Chalmers (bio)

Ed. note: The following was read at the Performance Studies Conference, held in New York City in April 2002.

I would have liked to give a paper at this conferenceTo have been invitedTo address peopleAnd not in a poemTo present an ideaOf which I have manyAnd get some reactionsFrom people who might also help meFind my way in the fieldOr who might help me publishBecause I'm up for renewalAnd have a manuscriptWhich is almost not my dissertation.

I would have liked to give a paper at this conferenceAnd put it on my CVThat I came to this conferenceThe major conference in my fieldWhich is performance studiesWhich is a pretty weird fieldAt least in IndianaWhere I try to explain it to peoplePeople who give papers at conferencesAnd where I'm up for renewal next yearIn a department of theatreAnd where I have a lot of big ideasWhile I'm walking to the parking lot—But I haven't published too muchYet.

I didn't really want to give a poemBut I'll put it on my CV anyway [End Page 5] Maybe with another titleBecause I need to be activeI need to seem activeIn the field of performance studiesWhich no one has heard ofNot even the provostOr the othersFor whom the sum performance studies plus performance artist plus femininityApparently equals Fun.And according to whose vision of the UniversityAs a smorgasbord of disciplinesFun is hopefully tenurable.

So I am giving this poemIn order to appear to be activeAnd also to get reimbursedFrom my universityWhich rewards the rewardedWith tripsAnd which smiles on the disciplines(No matter how fun)That have normal thingsLike conferencesWhich are places for debateBut are also places for juniors to performTheir active participationIn a disciplineEven a discipline like performance studiesWhere to be juniorMinorPipsqueakSupplicantAs in any other disciplineIs to have to ask favorsFrom those with no time.

So I am giving this poemIn the form of a short complaintAnd as a reminder of the plight of the junior whoLike any other juniorIn any other businessIs in thrall to a process of professionalizationA total corporate processWhose existence she never imaginedWhile reading theories of subversionAs a graduate student.

But I am also giving this reminderIn the form of a poemBecause this is in fact the kind of thingI imagined I'd be doingWhile reading theories of subversionAs a graduate student whoLike any other graduate student [End Page 6] ApprenticeInternConsumerSupplicantIs in thrall to a familial visionof the universityAnd to the idea of a discipline thatUnlike every other disciplineMight accept a little poemAs a professional contributionA meditation on belonging toAdmission toThe performance studies field. [End Page 7]

Jessica Chalmers

Jessica Chalmers is currently Assistant Professor of Performance Studies at the University of Notre Dame. She is working on a book, Reality Theater, about her education in theory, her work's relationship to the 1960s, and her identity as a performing academic and academic performer.



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