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Performing Practice-Based Research. Special issue of Performance Matters 9.1-2 (2023): 1-414. Edited by Peter Dickinson and Ellen Waterman.

What is the performative force of practice-based research (PBR)? The contributions to this special double issue of Performance Matters address this question from a range of disciplinary perspectives, research sites, and creative and scholarly outcomes. In so doing, they demonstrate the ways in which PBR is a fitting methodology for our uncertain and precarious times.

My Vancouver Dance History: Story, Movement, Community. (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2020), xiv, 384 pp, 38 photos.

Awarded Honourable Mention for the 2022 Ann Saddlemyer Award by the Canadian Association for Theatre Research for the best book in Canadian theatre and performance studies.

In the last decade, Vancouver dance has received tremendous acclaim nationally and internationally, as witnessed by the success of Crystal Pite and a rejuvenated Ballet BC. But this only tells part of the story of the vibrancy and diversity of contemporary movement practices in the city. Based on ten years of close observation, My Vancouver Dance History fleshes out the embodied narrative of this community by focusing on my critical and creative collaborations with nine Vancouver-based dance artists and companies. Mixing interview excerpts with fieldwork descriptions of studio research and performance analysis, each of the book’s six chapters aims: 1) to tell a portion of the story of a particular artist’s or company’s movement history; 2) to tell a more expansive story of my collaborations with these artists; and 3) to contextualize the first two stories alongside a cumulative elaboration of the story of Vancouver dance production and performance as it has unfolded between 2008 and 2018. This final bit of storying is accomplished by interpolating the voices of other invested participants into each of the chapters, and by interspersing between the chapters a series of “movement intervals” reflecting on key moments in my dance spectating history. In this and other innovative ways, I suggest that when we pay attention to the larger social topography of dance practice—the sites that give rise to it, the labour that goes into it, and the professional friendships it engenders—we are afforded a different way of valuing dance’s contributions to civic life.
  • Reviewed in: Dance Current (2020); Theatre Research in Canada (2022)

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Q2Q: Queer Canadian Theatre and Performance, New Essays on Canadian Theatre, vol. 8. Edited by Peter Dickinson, CE Gatchalian, Kathleen Oliver, and Dalbir Singh (Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2018), x, 336 pp.

Winner of the Canadian Association for Theatre Research's 2020 Patrick O'Neill Award, presented to the best edited collection published in either English or French on a Canadian theatre and performance topic.

This collection seeks to understand why it is important not just to continue to tell queer stories on stage, but also to piece together the larger historical narrative of Canadian queer theatrical production and reception through academic research. Through these essays, artist reflections, and curatorial statements, the contributors generate theories and new ways of understanding how queer theatre and performance have contributed more broadly to the political and social development of LGBT2Q communities in Canada. Q2Q: Queer Canadian Theatre and Performance asks what a comparative analysis of contemporary queer performance practice in Canada can tell us about current appetites and potential future programming.

  • Reviewed in: Theatre Research in Canada 40.1-2 (2019); Modern Drama 63.1 (2020); Canadian Theatre Review 182 (2020)

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Q2Q: Queer Canadian Performance Texts. Edited by Peter Dickinson, CE Gatchalian, Kathleen Oliver, and Dalbir Singh (Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2018), iv, 312 pp.

Nominated for a 2019 Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBTQ Anthology.

A companion anthology to Q2Q: Queer Canadian Theatre and Performance, the work contained in this volume provides a snapshot of Canadian contemporary queer performance practices—from solo performance to political allegory to family melodrama to intersectional narratives that combine text, movement, and music.

  • Reviewed in: Broken Pencil 81 (2018); Canadian Theatre Review 182 (2020)

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General issue of Performance Matters 2.2 (2016): 1-176. Edited by Peter Dickinson.

This general issue includes essays on atmospheric performances of light, Helen Levitt’s performance photography, Philippe Petit’s high-wire walk between New York’s World Trade Centre Towers in 1974, and the opportunities and risks that come with adapting “Indigenous ways of knowing” to digital spaces. Additionally, a special forum section addresses the state of dance studies in Canada.

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Performance and Pedagogy. Special issue of Performance Matters 2.1 (2016): 1-107. Edited by Peter Dickinson.

Pedagogy, like performance, takes practice. In this issue contributors rehearse different strategies and techniques for the transmission of knowledge (embodied and otherwise) across a range of institutional, instructional, and performative contexts.

Mega-Event Cities: Art/Audiences/Aftermaths. Special issue of PUBLIC, guest-edited by Peter Dickinson, Kirsty Johnston, and Keren Zaiontz. 53 (Spring 2016), 203 pp.

MEGA-EVENT CITIES brings together leading scholars, artists, and activists to examine the role of the arts in articulating the social agendas of urban mega-events like Olympic Games and World Expos. As mega-events circulate from one city to the next, they leave complex (often ruinous) infrastructural legacies for artists and communities, with scenarios of national celebration transiting swiftly to austerity measures and socially cleansed urban cores. The contributors to PUBLIC 53 engage with the exhilaration and sober aftermaths of the “mega” by taking stock of the fluid politics of officials who seek to commemorate mega-events through public art programs, and activists who choose to question the same events through creative acts of resistance. With particular focus on Vancouver and London—but ranging beyond to Sochi, Rio, Milan, Calgary, and Baku, Azerbaijan—this issue asks how art and culture can intervene in the pressing security, human rights, and environmental issues that shape mega-events. Mega-Event Cities addresses the local politics of global placemaking and shows the shared artistic practices, performative interventions, and resistant acts that can be found across host city sites.

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Archiving Performance. Special issue of Performance Matters 1.1-2 (2015): 1-179. Edited by Peter Dickinson.

The online, open-access journal I founded is officially launched with this special double issue devoted to questions of performance archives and the "archival turn" in performance studies.

Vancouver after 2010. Special issue of Canadian Theatre Review, guest-edited by Peter Dickinson, Kirsty Johnston, and Keren Zaiontz. 164 (2015), 110 pp

A startling correspondence across former Olympic and Paralympic host cities is that aggressive social welfare cuts followed the event. These cuts have serious material consequences for those very artists and minority groups that proved so central to winning bids and staging Opening and Closing ceremonies. Five years after the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, with the city’s arts communities still recovering from a series of provincial funding cuts that actually began in 2009, and with post-Olympics development projects encroaching on artist live-work spaces, this special issue of Canadian Theatre Review brings together scholars, artists, and cultural producers to ask what kinds of resources remain after a mega-event has left town? How do artists and companies adapt to new economic circumstances and leverage audience attention for and investment in new projects? And what might a reading of the specific aesthetic, social, and affective legacies of different Olympics- and Paralympics-related performances tell us about the state of arts and culture in Vancouver today? From public art and sound walks, to hockey games and real estate speculation, this issue reveals the pervasive power of the Olympics to continue to shape how Vancouverites move through and live within the city. Fix, the published script by award-winning playwright Alex Bulmer, demonstrates how citizens of host cities from Vancouver to London must continually renew the fight to the right to the city. Bulmer’s “audio provocation” seeks to engage youth in the deep questions of citizenship, particularly concerning disability and inclusion. Her script is one of many battle cries in this issue that shows art and performance to more than a stage for official culture, but a political force with which to be reckoned.

Women and Comedy: History, Theory, Practice, eds. Peter Dickinson, Anne Higgins, Paul Matthew St. Pierre, Diana Solomon, and Sean Zwagerman (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2014), xxxviii, 250 pp., 17 halftones.

Based on a successful symposium co-organized with colleagues in my department, this edited collection gathers together the most current international scholarship on the complexity and subversive potential of women’s comedic speech, literature, and performance. Earlier comedy theorists, including Freud and Bergson, did not envision women as either the agents or audiences of comedy, only its targets. Only relatively recently have scholarly studies of comedy begun to recognize and historicize women’s contributions to--and political uses of--comedy. The contributors to Women and Comedy: History, Theory, Practice respond to the marginalization and/or trivialization of both women and comedy by asserting the cultural and theoretical importance of a range of texts across different media and genres; by examining those texts within their historical contexts; and by testing their possibilities and limits as models for social engagement.

World Stages, Local Audiences: Essays on Performance, Place, and Politics (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2010), “Theatre: Theory, Practice, Performance” series, xii, 260 pp., 24 halftones.

In this book I examine the relationship between audience and event, placed-based spectatorship and global politics. I argue that the forms of intimacy and identification that come from being part of a local performance public provide a potential model for rethinking our roles as world citizens. Using my own experience of recent theatrical practice in Vancouver as a starting point, I map the spaces of connection and contestation, the flows of sentiment and social responsibility, produced by different communities in response to global sports spectacles like the Olympics and World Cup; national, religious, and civic debates on same-sex marriage, the war on terror, and the protocols of mourning; even the extreme weather resulting from climate change. I also analyze how such topics are taken up in the work of playwrights like Moisés Kaufman, Tony Kushner, Terrence McNally, Charles Mee, and Paula Vogel; conceptual, installation, and performance artists like Ai Weiwei, Rebecca Belmore, Paul Chan, and Annie Sprinkle; and dance-theatre artists like Margie Gillis, Crystal Pite, Lee Su-Feh and battery opera, DV8 Physical Theatre, and Stan Won’t Dance.

• Reviewed in: Contemporary Theatre Review 21.1 (2011); Choice (May 2011); New Theatre Quarterly 27.3 (August 2011); Theatre Journal 63.4 (December 2011); Theatre Survey 53.1 (April 2012); Theatre Research in Canada 33.1 (2012)

Screening Gender, Framing Genre: Canadian Literature into Film (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), xii, 280 pp., 42 halftones.

Audiences often measure the success of film adaptations by how faithfully they adhere to their original source material. However, fidelity criticism tells only part of the story of adaptation. In Screening Gender, Framing Genre, I examine the history and theory of films adapted from Canadian literature through the lens of gender studies, arguing that the changes made to literary sources in the course of creating their film treatments are often fascinating in terms of what they reveal about the different processes of genre recognition and gender identification in both media, as well as the social, cultural, and historical contexts governing their production and reception. Unique in its discussion of a range of different adaptations, including films based on novels, plays, poetry, and Native orature, this study offers new and often provocative readings of works by such well-known Canadian authors as Margaret Atwood, Marie-Claire Blais, and Michael Ondaatje, and by such important Canadian filmmakers as Mireille Dansereau, Claude Jutra, Robert Lepage, and Bruce McDonald. Drawing equally from film and gender theory, literary and cinematic history, this book will resonate with literature and film buffs alike, as well as with readers curious about the intersection of Canadian cultural production and broader issues of gender and national identity formation.

• Reviewed in: Vancouver Sun (March 2007), Reference & Research Book News (May 2007), Choice (Sept 2007), Video Age International (Nov/Dec 2007)

Sexing the Maple: A Canadian Sourcebook. Co-edited with Richard Cavell (Peterborough,ON: Broadview Press, 2006), xliv, 482 pp.

Sexing the Maple is a unique sourcebook designed to raise issues of nationalism and sexuality in Canada through a rich and diverse selection of fiction, poetry, criticism, and history. Structured so as to provide an interactive study of these issues, the collection considers topics as wide-ranging as First Nations sexuality, censorship, assisted reproduction, and religion. Literary works by Alice Munro, Jane Rule, Timothy Findley, Leonard Cohen, Irving Layton, Lynn Crosbie, Michael Turner, and many others are juxtaposed with criticism and historical documents, many of which were previously out of print or unavailable. Selections include Marshall McLuhan's 1967 article "The Future of Sex" and excerpts from Stan Persky and John Dixon's Kiddie Porn, SKY Lee's Disappearing Moon Cafe, and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.

• Reviewed in: Globe and Mail (January 2007), Canadian Literature 197 (Summer 2008)

Literatures, Cinemas, Cultures. Special issue of Essays on Canadian Writing, guest-edited with introduction. 76 (2002), 276 pp.

This special issue of Essays on Canadian Writing, for which I served as guest-editor and wrote the introduction, focuses on the history, theory, and critical contexts of film and television treatments of English Canadian and Québécois literary texts. Collected here, in both official languages, is recent work by literary scholars, film and communications scholars, writers, and filmmakers on specific case studies and on the politics and semiotics of cinematic representation more generally. The essays cover a broad range of topics, focus on a diverse cross section of "texts," adopt a variety of disciplinary, methodological, and theoretical perspectives, and often speak back to each other in compelling ways. In "citing" the manifold ways in which Canada and Québec have been "sighted" on film--refracted, in some cases, through the prism of literature and, in others, through cops' crotches--each author points out that this country's cultural mythology itself is the "site" of constant reinvention and renegotiation. Contributors include Susan Swan, Lee Parpart, Elspeth Tulloch, André Loiselle, Michael Eberle-Sinatra, Benjamin Lefebvre, Patsy Kotsopoulos, Gillian Roberts, Glen Lowry, May Telmissany, and John Greyson.

Here is Queer: Nationalisms, Sexualities, and the Literatures of Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999), x, 262 pp.

What is the connection between Oscar Wilde and the literary history of Canada? Where do we locate gender and sexuality in the performance of Canadian ethnicities? How might the sexual sloganeering of Queer Nation illuminate the cultural angst of Northrop Frye? I explore these and other questions in this book, the first full-length study to consider how the interconnected concepts of nationalism and sexuality have helped shape the production and reception of Canadian, Québécois, and First Nations literatures. The main focus of the study is contemporary--the fiction, drama, and poetry of Timothy Findley, Michel Tremblay, Tomson Highway, Nicole Brossard, Daphne Marlatt, and others. Juxtaposing an alternative sexual politics against the predominantly nationalist literary framework of literary criticism in Canada, I argue that the historical construction of Canada's literatures around the apparent absence of a coherent national identity presupposes the presence of a subversive, destabilizing sexual identity. To Frye's “Where is here?” I answer emphatically, “Here is queer.” Drawing on a wide and eclectic body of post-colonial, gay and lesbian, and Canadian literary scholarship, Here is Queer extends in new ways our thinking about Canada's “famous problem of identity.”

• Reviewed in: Xtra! West (April 1999), Globe and Mail (August 1999), British Journal of Canadian Studies 14.1 (1999), Quebec Studies 28 (1999/2000), Vancouver Sun (March 2000), International Fiction Review 27.1-2 (2000), University of Toronto Quarterly 70.1 (2000/2001), Essays on Canadian Writing 72 (2000), AUMLA: The Journal of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association 95 (May 2001), Canadian Issues/Themes Canadiens (June/July 2001), Journal of the History of Sexuality 10.2 (2001), Canadian Literature 170/171 (2001), Theatre Research in Canada 22.1 (2001), torquere 3 (2001), American Literary History 13.4 (Winter 2001), English Studies in Canada 27.4 (December 2001)