Performativity Challenged? Creativity and the Return of Interiority

Bell, Vikki. 2007. Performativity Challenged? Creativity and the Return of Interiority. In: , ed. Culture and Performance. Oxford: Berg, pp. 97-120. ISBN 9781845201050 [Book Section]


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Abstract or Description

Within feminist theory theory, as well as in other areas of thought, certain terms, hitherto rejected, bracketed or even forbidden are being reassessed and reanimated anew. ‘Ontology’, ‘materiality’, ‘evolution’ are being reasserted with an enthusiasm seeming contradiction with radical perspectives of the recent past. Of course, with such complex terms at stake, these reassessments are not all of the same ilk; nevertheless, it is remarkable that one now finds some of the most eminent feminist theorists engaged in explorations that would have been unthinkable fifteen years ago, even though much of the theoretical literature employed is much older than this, as the recent explorations of the work of Henri Bergson in the context of feminist theory testify (Grosz, 2004; 2005). What gives this literature its newness is how it reads now now, and, I would argue, , not least in a context where it is presented as a critique of the concept of performativity as it has come to be understood in feminist and cultural theory formativity theory. This is the intriguing dynamic I wish to explore here. How does this work bear upon feminist theory’s espousal of performativity? How do materiality, creativity and ‘life’ come to be posited as an exposure of performativity’s analytic fallacy? And what is the importance of acknowledging the context – or ‘environment’ – where the debate becomes ‘localized’ or territorialized (for example, within feminist theory)? (Excerpt, opening paragraph).

Item Type:

Book Section


Performativity; Feminist theory; Materiality

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Study of Invention and Social Process (CSISP) [2003-2015]



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

26 Mar 2007

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:28


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