The Performative Power of Vocality  book cover
1st Edition

The Performative Power of Vocality

ISBN 9781138659179
Published December 11, 2019 by Routledge
260 Pages 1 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

The Performative Power of Vocality offers a fresh perspective on voice as a subject of critical inquiry by employing an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approach.

Conventional treatment of voice in theatre and performance studies too often regards it as a subcategory of actor training, associated with the established methods that have shaped voice pedagogy within Western theatre schools, conservatories, and universities. This monograph significantly deviates from these dominant models through its investigation of the non-discursive, material, and affective efficacy of vocality, with a focus on orally transmitted vocal traditions. Drawing from her performance training, research collaborations, and commitment to cultural diversity, Magnat proposes a dialogical approach to vocality. Inclusive of established, current, and emerging research perspectives, this approach sheds light on the role of vocality as a vital source of embodied knowledge, creativity, and well-being grounded in process, practice, and place, as well as a form of social and political agency.

An excellent resource for qualitative researchers, artist-scholars, and activists committed to decolonization, cultural revitalization, and social justice, this book opens up new avenues of understanding across Indigenous and Western philosophy, performance studies, musicology, ethnomusicology, sound and voice studies, anthropology, sociology, phenomenology, cognitive science, physics, ecology, and biomedicine.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Performance, Embodiment, and Vocality

Chapter 2: Reclaiming Presence for the Lived Voice

Chapter 3: Exploring (K)new Paradigms

Chapter 4: Vocality as Source, Resource, and Potentiality


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Virginie Magnat is Associate Professor of Performance at the University of British Columbia, Canada.


Honorable Mention from The American Theatre and Drama Society’s John W. Frick Book Award, honoring the best monograph published each year on theatre and performance of/in the Americas.

"We were impressed by the breadth of Magnat’s research which brings together elements of quantum physics, sound theory, anthropology, philosophy, the work of Grotowski as well as the research of Indigenous scholars in many fields to elucidate what happens in and through vocality and especially in the sharing of songs in language inherited from ancestors. We were equally impressed by Magnat’s methodology which models what Anishinaabe scholar Jill Carter calls a 'relational shift' toward the creation of truly respectful and dialogical conversations between Western and Indigenous ontologies, epistemologies and methodologies. From the creation of an Indigenous Advisory Committee to ensure best practices to Magnat’s self-reflective engagement with her ancestors, be they familial in Occitania, a region of France with its own distinct culture and language, or academic (Magnat was trained in and is a scholar of the Grotowski tradition and French theory), [she] models decolonizing scholarship in important ways."

Award Committee: Henry Bial, University of Kansas (chair); Julie Burelle, UC-San Diego; Shane Vogel, Yale University

"At a time when many voice practitioners are striving to decolonize their studios, classrooms, pedagogy, and practice, Virginie Magnat has provided us with a concrete example of how, through embodied inquiry, the dominant Eurocentric systems of the academy may be decentralized in voice training and performance studies. This volume proves that Western and Indigenous ontologies and epistemologies exist not only in conversation, but also potentially merge into new methodologies. Radical, innovative, and thought-provoking, The Performative Power of Vocality would be valuable to both researchers and artist-scholars committed to the decolonization of vocality, and it will serve as an important model for a new way forward in the field of voice studies."

Shannon Holmes, Voice and Speech Review 2021, 1-3