CFP: "Engineering Events: Technologies of Performance" (SHOT 2023 Open Session—Abstracts 3/24)

Scott Kushner's picture

Dear Material Culturists,

I'm proposing an open session for the 2023 meeting of the Society for the History of Technology, to be held October 25-29 in Long Beach, Calif., USA.  It may be of interest to scholars working on the material artifacts of performance.  Feel free to be in touch with any inquiries.  See below or visit  Abstracts by March 24 to (note extension to end of week).  

Organizer: Scott Kushner, University of Rhode Island (

Accounting, amplifying, autotuning, broadcasting, concealing, crowd controlling, designing, displaying, fencing, filming, lighting, loading-in, marketing, monitor mixing, rigging, simulcasting, sound engineering, staging, striking, surveilling, ticketing, transporting, wayfinding: performance events are inseparable from technological interventions.  These technologies all have their own histories, and each conspires with other technologies, practices, and discourses to form an assemblage of technical operations.  This SHOT session will explore the histories of technologies that support and surround performance—music, theater, sport, and other cultural formations where large groups of people watch small groups of people do things.  

Technologies of performance can dazzle audiences or hide in plain sight, but they all structure the possibilities of entertainment and the social parameters of performing or audiencing.  How have technical instruments of performance interacted with familiar social divides such as gender, race, class, and ability?  How have technologies shaped who may perform or attend, whose labor is valued or devalued, whose financial or political interests are served or sidelined?  The significance of this work to the history of technology lies in concentrating discussion about the ways that technological interventions have shaped the production, consumption, and possibilities of cultural performance.

Scholars at various career levels (graduate students through senior scholars, and all throughout the various dimensions of the academic-labor dominion) working on projects at all stages of development (new ideas, works-in-progress, magna opera) may propose papers exploring technologies of performance from the perspective of innovators, implementers, users, performers, audiences, and/or excluded parties.  Proposals engaging with any era and geographic context are welcome.

Procedure: Those interested in proposing presentations for potential inclusion in this session will kindly prepare one-page abstracts and a one-page CVs with current contact information.  Please submit materials to Scott Kushner ( by March 24, 2023.

If you will be a first-time SHOT presenter, do not hold a tenure-stream position, are a graduate student (or no more than two years from receipt of a terminal academic degree), and wish to be considered for the Robinson Prize, please indicate as much in your abstract.  (Find information about the Robinson Prize at the Robinson Prize page at the SHOT website: