Performing Politics in the era of histrionic handshakes, ‘fake news,’ and ‘post-truth’

“Performing Politics in the era of histrionic handshakes, ‘fake news,’ and ‘post-truth’”

Moderator: Laura Levin

This panel seeks new frameworks for understanding political performance in the era of histrionic handshakes, “fake news,” and “post-truth.” If politicians’ claims to truthfulness have historically depended upon “a studied antitheatricality, a disavowal of politics as performance” (Levin 2017), then do the performative strategies of “post-truth” politicians imply an embrace of theatricality? Or can these performances be read as part of a longer genealogy of mediatized political performance? What kinds of performance-based lenses might help us to understand what politicians, citizens, protestors, and other political actors are doing, how they are doing it, and to what effect(s)?

Alongside these questions, we wish to investigate, in more concrete terms, what the magnified theatrical gestures of politicians actually produce on national and global stages. Are the recent antics of politicians meant as a distraction from actual political acts? Or do they in fact constitute alternate ways of doing politics, which in turn bring into being profound changes in political structures of feeling and ways of perceiving self, community, and nation? More urgently, how might the enactment of politics by minoritarian subjects, and by theatre and performance artists, help us to imagine performances of politics beyond the hyper-masculine and competitive displays of dominance?

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