Kelina Gotman

Kelina Gotman


  • Phone81773
  • 26

Personal profile

Research interests

Theatre and performance history and philosophy, dance history and philosophy, critical and cultural theory, cultural studies of science, disciplines and institutions, language, translation, dramaturgy.



Research interests

My work is fundamentally concerned with questions of disciplinarity and translation, as well as – underpinning these – enquiry into the way we write. Thus my first book, Choreomania: Dance and Disorder (Studies in Dance Theory, Oxford University Press, 2018, winner of the David Bradby Award for outstanding research in international theatre and performance studies, Theatre and Performance Research Association) investigates the formation of the concept of the ‘dancing disease’ in nineteenth-century colonial medical, psychiatric and anthropological circles. It queries the emergence of the ‘dancing disease’ diagnosis at a point when questions of disorderly public corporeality – in the context of the nineteenth-century rise of nation-states – saturated scientific and social scientific discourse. Embroiling public insurgency, anti-colonial uprisings, village fêtes and neuromotor disorder, ‘choreomania’, the book argues, came to stand for formless revolt. The book further argues that this very ‘formlessness’ was imagined to arise in the nineteenth century as a recursion of the Dionysian bacchanals, translated in the Middle Ages into St. Vitus’s dance and recuperated into epidemiological literature and Orientalist historiography. Setting thus concepts of ‘dance’ as disorderly, often black or dark, animal motility at the heart of modern science, the book argues for a reconsideration of the way we understand movement in our disciplinary histories. Articles and chapters that further and extend these claims, including on the notion of disciplinary ‘translatio’, have appeared in Performance Research, About Performance, parallax, Tanz und WahnSinn, Beyond Failure, The Neuroscientific Turn: Transdisciplinarity in the Age of the Brain (on what I call the ‘neural metaphor’) and elsewhere.

A further strand of my research questions the form of the essay and the time of writing, as well as the vulnerability and intimacy of writing as act; this includes work on the figure of theatre as a site not so much for duplication, falsity, doubles or lies but for porosity, transformation. That work, which is creative critical and fictocritical in scope, takes the movement of writing as a critical and a poethical event, presence to the page. This writing has appeared among others in SubStance, Comparative and Continental Philosophy, Studies in Theatre and PerformanceTheatre Survey, Performance Research, as well as in a second book titled Essays on Theatre and Change: Towards a Poetics Of (Routledge, 2018). I am currently at work on a third book, on the fraught relationship between theatre and 'truth', which extends the sphere of thinking developed in Essays on Theatre and Change further to question what it means to write in a politically engaged manner, with the force of presence. The book is invested in an exploration of Foucault’s concept of parrêsia – often translated as fearless speech, or the courage of truth. It examines the role of ‘theatre’ as a space of appearance in what many have termed a post-truth paradigm.

My engagement with Foucault’s particularly theatrical brand of discursive analysis is longstanding; a co-edited volume, Foucault's Theatres is the first in the field explicitly to engage with Foucault’s thought, particularly in his later lectures at the Collège de France (Manchester University Press, 2020, with Tony Fisher), and articles in Cultural Critique and parallax, among others.

My commitment to critical genealogy and to thinking performance across disciplines has led to editing the 4-volume Theories of Performance: Critical and Primary Sources (Bloomsbury, 2022). And I work and teach regularly on issues of disciplinarity, institutionality and higher education.

Finally, my research and practice as a theatre and performance maker is engaged with the question of language and translation, particularly in conversation with comparative literary discourse on ‘world literature’ and untranslatability, a set of concerns at the heart of a further co-edited volume, Performance and Translation in a Global Age (co-edited with Avishek Ganguly, Cambridge University Press, 2023). I am translator of Félix Guattari’s The Anti-Oedipus Papers, 450pp (Semiotext(e)/The MIT Press, 2006), as well as the award-winning French playwright Marie NDiaye’s The Snakes (Les serpents) (Cue Press, 2016), which received a staged reading at The Gate.

Further theatre, dance and dramaturgical work includes a commission with composer Steve Potter and the London Sinfonietta to develop a songless opera based on the philosophy of Walter Benjamin (100 Combat Troupes: denkbild for six musicians and four actor-dancers, Village Underground), and over two dozen further productions in Europe and North America, for which I have worked as a translator, writer, librettist, dramaturg, director, actor, dancer, choreographer, movement director and designer. New York highlights include the Drama Desk Award-nominated Agamemnon and Lorca’s Amor de Don Perlimplín… con Belisa en su jardín (Repertorio Español, in Spanish), both directed by Gisela Cardenas; Olivier Cadiot’s AWOL at 59E59 Theatres, dir. Marion Schoevaert (Act French Festival); Giraudoux’s Ondine, dir. Jill Samuels (walkerspace at SoHo Repertory Theatre); A Hall in the Palace of Pyrrhus (after Racine’s Andromaque) (Ohio Theatre) and Charles Mee’s Heaven on Earth, co-produced at La MaMa ETC and Les SubSistances (Lyon), both with Witness Relocation. I am an associate artist of the New York-based dance-theatre company Witness Relocation and with Potter co-direct Recreational Services and the OperLab. Earlier projects have included Krono-Metre: Catalogue Out of Time, based on Hesiod’s Theogony (NYU in Paris, with IRI Pompidou/Institut Télécom) (co-writer and performer), and ADORENOSTORIES (co-writer and performer), as well as the Infancy, History and the Avant-Garde festival (Omnibus Clapham) and smooth & striated: form at hARTslane gallery (New Cross). With the experimental band Schopenhauer, I co-wrote and performed Propositions: After Bataille, and regularly appear in projects including at the i = u festival at Yinka Shonibare’s Guest Projects, with the London Sprechchor, LSO St. Luke’s; and with choreographer Matthias Sperling for the semi-fictional Institute of Neurochoreography: First Open Congress at Sadler's Wells. I have trained in classical, modern and contemporary dance (Cunningham), tango, corporeal mime, physical theatre and butoh.

As a speaker, critic and curator, I work widely with museums and dance, art and theatre venues and companies, including the Clod Ensemble and The Place, as well as the Rambert School and the Russell Maliphant Dance Company, and spoken on my work among others for events at the Museu de Arte de Sao Paolo (Brazil), the Freiraum at the MuseumQuartier Wien (Austria), the Bucharest International Dance Film Festival (BIDFF, Romania), Siobhan Davies Dance (London), HetHEM Amsterdam (Netherlands), Club Tresor Berlin (Germany), F*LAB Frankfurt (Germany), Bozar Brussels (Belgium), the Royal Institute of Art Stockholm (Sweden), and many more. I also developed with the English National Opera Baylis the Satyagraha Remix project, based on the ENO’s production of Philip Glass’s Satyagraha, and spoken at post-shows at the London Coliseum (Michael Keegan-Dolan/Fabulous Beast The Rite of Spring), the Camden People’s Theatre, the New York Theatre Workshop, and the French-American Theater Dialogue Series at the Martin E. Segal Theatre in NYC, as well as on the BBC World Service ‘World Have Your Say’, special programme on gender inequality, among many others. I am regularly involved in arts and cultural institutional research, strategy and programming, including for the Tate Modern performance galleries (the ‘Tanks’) (inaugural working group), the Festival International de Nouvelle Danse_International New Dance Festival (FIND) (Montréal), Misnomer Dance Theatre (NYC), the Permanent Medical Galleries at the national science museum in Oslo, and others. I have given over 60 invited papers and keynotes internationally across disciplines, and a further 40 internationally at symposia, conferences and events. Prior to joining King’s, I taught performance, writing, cultural and critical theory, literature, and liberal arts at Columbia University; The Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts, The New School; and the Language and Thinking programme, Institute for Writing and Thinking, Bard College. I have been Audrey and William H. Helfand Fellow in the Medical Humanities at the New York Academy of Medicine, Visiting Scholar at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, Guest Professor in Comparative Dramaturgy at the Institute for Theatre, Film and Media Studies at the Goethe Universitat Frankfurt, Visiting Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Professeure invitée in Philosophy at the Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès, as well as Honorary Lecturer at the Slade School of Fine Art (UCL), where I serve in an auxiliary supervisory role. I am currently developing cross-faculty and cross-college Performance network at King's, gathering colleagues and postgraduate research students from across all disciplines.

I am interested in hearing from potential research students working on the history and philosophy of disciplines and institutions; theatre, performance and dance histories and genealogies; critical and cultural theory and continental and/or transnational philosophy, including in the work of Michel Foucault; critical questions of science, nature, and performance, including the history and philosophy of social science, medicine and psychiatry; creative critical writing, autotheory, feminist discourse, including studies of performative writing and genre; radical pedagogy and institutional critique; critical dramaturgy, including dance dramaturgy; rhetoric and language, in relation to performance; theatre and health; and transnational questions of political theory, practice, and performance. Projects international and/or interdisciplinary in scope are particularly welcome, as are projects working deeply with historiographical and/or philosophical methods.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Columbia University

Award Date: 1 Jan 2008

Master of Philosophy, Columbia University

Award Date: 1 Jan 2005

Master of Arts, Columbia University

Award Date: 1 Jan 2003

Bachelor of Arts, Brown University

Award Date: 1 Jan 2000


Dive into the research topics where Kelina Gotman is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or