Performance: A Critical Introduction: 3rd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Performance: A Critical Introduction

3rd Edition

By Marvin Carlson


292 pages

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Since its original publication in 1996, Marvin Carlson's Performance: A Critical Introduction has remained the definitive guide to understanding performance as a theatrical activity. It is an unparalleled exploration of the myriad ways in which performance has been interpreted, its importance to disciplines from anthropology to linguistics, and how it underpins essential concepts of human society.

In this comprehensively revised and updated third edition, Carlson tackles the pressing themes and theories of our age, with expanded coverage of :

  • the growth and importance of racial and ethnic performance;
  • the emergence of performance concerned with age and disability;
  • the popularity and significance of participatory and immersive theatre;
  • the crucial relevance of identity politics and cultural performance in the twenty-first century.

Also including a fully updated bibliography and glossary, this classic text is an invaluable touchstone for any student of performance studies, theatre history, and the performing and visual arts.


Praise for the previous edition:

"This is vintage Carlson—erudite, concise, precise and engaging"

Maria Shevstova, Theatre Quarterly

Table of Contents

Introduction: what is performance?

Chapter 1 The performance of culture: anthropological and ethnographic approaches

Chapter 2 Performance in society: sociological and psychological approaches

Chapter 3 The performance of language: linguistic approaches

Chapter 4 Performance in its historical context

Chapter 5 Performance art

Chapter 6 Performance and the postmodern

Chapter 7 Performance and identity

Chapter 8 Cultural performance

Conclusion: what is performance?



About the Author

Marvin Carlson is Sidney E. Cohn Professor of Theatre, Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, USA. Among his books are Theories of the Theatreand The Haunted Stage.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / General
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / History & Criticism