Back Stages: Essays Across Art, Performance, and the Social


Shannon Jackson explores a range of disciplinary, institutional, and political puzzles that engage the social and aesthetic practice of performance in this collection of twenty essential essays spanning her career. Back Stagesstarts by considering the historical connection between performance practice and movements of social reform, while later writings analyze disciplinary debates on the place of performance in higher education and within the contemporary field of socially engaged art, tracking fraught and allied relationships to literary studies, art history, visual culture, theater, social theory, and critical theory.

At a time of increased aesthetic experimentation and political debate within the art world, these essays alight on artists, groups, and cultural organizations whose experiments have challenged conventions of curation and critique, including Theaster Gates, Paul Ramirez Jonas, Harrel Fletcher, and My Barbarian. Throughout Jackson navigates the political ambivalences of performance, from the late nineteenth to the twenty-first century, tracking shifts in participatory art that seek to resist capitalism, even as such performance work paradoxically risks neoliberal appropriation by a post-Fordist experience economy.

Back Stages surfaces unexpected cross-disciplinary connections and provides new opportunities for mutual engagement within a wide network of educational, artistic, and civic sectors. A substantial introduction excavates the critical links between the essays and a variety of disciplines and movements.

Shannon Jackson
Publication date: 
June 15, 2022
Publication type: