From Semiotics to Philosophy:
Daring to Ask the Obvious

David Z. Saltz, University of Georgia

The late 1960s through the 1980s marked an unprecedented period of vibrant activity in theatre theory. Throughout this period, a steadily expanding group of international scholars from France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Israel, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, among other countries, joined forces to develop a comprehensive and unified semiotic theory of theatre — a project that picked up on the earlier wave of semiotic performance theory centered in Prague in the 1930s and 1940s. This second semiotic wave had largely subsided by the early 1990s. The collapse of semiotics might well have cleared the way for a new approach to theatre theory based on a fruitful re-conceptualization of the theatre event. Instead, for many years the reverberations of semiotics’ critical implosion had a stultifying effect on sustained and rigorous philosophical explorations into the phenomenon of theatre (with a few significant exceptions that I will discuss later). Only now, after a quarter of a century, are significant numbers of theatre and performance scholars once again investigating fundamental problems about the theatre event from a philosophical perspective.

A key factor inhibiting theatre philosophy after the apparent failure of the semiotic project is the profound — and largely justified — scepticism about universal, essentialist, and ahistorical theoretical models that became a pervasive feature of the intellectual landscape in the United States and United Kingdom, in particular, just as semiotics was reaching its apex in the late 1980s, when poststructural theory (which of course itself had been steadily gaining steam since the late 1960s) became the dominant force among literary and theatrical scholars. It is possible, however, to ask basic philosophical questions about the ‘nature’ of theatre and performance without falling into the trap of universalizing or essentializing what are, in fact, historically and/or culturally specific practices and biases. In this essay, I advocate an open-ended and dialogic process that characterizes the work of many contemporary philosophers, in both the analytic and continental traditions, and in particular those who have been inspired by the late-Wittgensteinian notion of philosophy as a kind of conceptual therapy.

The collapse of the semiotic enterprise

It is important to begin by distinguishing semiotics as a theory of theatre — that is, as an attempt to define and explain the theatre event as a whole and the functions of and relationships among its constituent parts — from semiotics as a critical methodology, that is, as one tool among many that can be used to analyse specific dramatic texts, performances, or genres. Semiotics as a critical tool remains perfectly viable, and is commonly and effectively used in conjunction with other approaches, most notably various forms of materialist criticism (see, for example, Knowles 2004). What characterized the ambitious theoretical enterprise that flourished briefly in the 1970s and 1980s was the attempt to use semiotic theory to construct a generalized and comprehensive model of the theatre event.

Semiotics is a top-down theoretical exercise. Eli Rozik, a key figure in second wave semiotics, explains that he turned to semiotics for a ‘scientific’ foundation for the study of theatre: ‘From the beginning of my theatre studies I tried to apply a scientific approach to the discipline. [...] Forty years ago, my goal seemed to be easily achievable, under the hegemony of the semiotic approach’ (Rozik 2014, xi). In 1964, at the dawn of the second wave of semiotics, Roland Barthes published Elements of Semiology (translated into English in 1967), describing the ‘sole aim’ of his project as ‘the extraction from linguistics of analytical concepts which we think a priori to be sufficiently general to start semiological research on its way’ (Barthes 1967). Theatre semioticians appropriated a collection of concepts proposed by C.S. Peirce and Ferdinand de Saussure and later expanded and refined by subsequent linguists and philosophers. Some semioticians (such as Erika Fischer-Lichte) aligned themselves more closely with Peirce and the pragmatic tradition that he inspired, while others (such as Barthes and Patrice Pavis) aligned themselves more closely with Saussure and the structuralist tradition. In fact, Peirce and Saussure conceive of the sign in radically different ways, with Peirce repeatedly emphasizing the irreducibly triadic nature of signs, and Saussure equally emphatic about its inherently binary structure. Nonetheless, most theatre semioticians uncritically combine concepts from both theorists, discussing, for example, Saussure’s distinction between the signifier and signified and Peirce’s distinction between iconic, indexical and semiotic signs in the same breath. There was little opportunity for the potential contradictions that might arise from mixing these two systems to come to light, however, since theatre semioticians rarely looked backwards to examine the philosophical arguments that Saussure and Peirce offered in support of their respective conceptions of the semiotic process; instead, they typically took established semiotic premises as givens and devoted their efforts to applying them to theatre.

The most basic premise underlying semiotic theory is that whatever phenomenon it examines (in this case, theatre) functions first and foremost as a sign system. Crucially, this premise itself is not subject to question within the semiotic paradigm; it is the initial assumption that sets the theory’s engine in motion. This premise, in turn, encompasses two ideas: (1) that the primary function of the phenomenon in question is to signify or communicate, and (2) that it does so by employing a systematic set of signifying conventions and codes, analogous to a language. Umberto Eco clearly articulates these presuppositions at the start of his seminal treatise on general semiotics, A Theory of Semiotics:

The aim of this book is to explore the theoretical possibility and the social function of a unified approach to every phenomenon of signification and/or communication. Such an approach should take the form of a general semiotic theory, able to explain every case of sign-function in terms of underlying systems of elements mutually correlated by one or more codes. (Eco 1976, 3)

Similarly, Erika Fischer-Lichte begins what is perhaps the single most rigorous and comprehensive attempt to construct a coherent theory of theatre semiotics, The Semiotics of Theater (initially published in three volumes 1983 as Semiotik des Theaters), by flatly setting forth the proposition that ‘Everything which humans produce is “significant” for themselves and each other, because humans in principle live “in a signifying world”, that is, in a world where everything that is perceived is perceived as a signifier which must be judged to have a signified, i.e., a meaning’ (Fischer-Lichte 1992, 1).

As the Prague semiotician Jiri Veltrusky famously pronounced, from the semiotic perspective, ‘everything on stage is a sign’ (Veltrusky [1940] 1964, 84), and the theatre event as a whole is, in Marco de Marinis’ widely adopted coinage, a ‘performance text’ (de Marinis [1982] 1992). Keir Elam, one of the first writers to bring semiotics to the attention of English-language theatre scholars, clearly articulates one of the most significant — and problematic — implications of this textual conception of theatrical performance: ‘What converts objects, people and action into signs on stage […] is the removal of the performance from praxis. This may seem self-evident and commonplace, but upon this simple act of severance rests the whole power of theatrical semiosis, indeed its very existence’ (Elam 1977, 14). Fischer-Lichte makes a closely related point when she emphasizes that theatre removes cultural signs (such as language and gesture) from their regular use, and consequently that ‘theatrical signs must, at least at the level of the system they form, be classified exclusively as iconic signs’ (Fischer-Lichte 1992, 15). An icon (as defined by Peirce) is a sign that represents its object by virtue of resembling it, like a picture (Peirce 1931-58, vol. 3, 362); hence, in describing the theatre event, taken as a whole, as iconic (a view widely espoused by theatre semioticians), Fischer-Lichte presupposes an inherently mimetic conception of theatrical performance.

The semiotic perspective exerts a powerful pull, profoundly influencing intuitions and perceptions. As Peirce himself asserted, ‘Nothing is a sign unless it is interpreted as a sign’ (Peirce 1931-58, vol. 2, 172). Once we start looking for signs, we see them everywhere. Indeed, the paradigm’s efficacy as a critical tool derives precisely from the way it compels us, as materialist critics would say, to ‘read against the grain’: to look through performance events and reveal meanings that otherwise would remain latent or subliminal. At the same time, the power of the semiotic perspective to alter our experience of the theatre event complicates and distorts the efforts of those whose goal, as it was for second wave semiotic theatre theorists, is to attain an accurate, rich, and far-reaching understanding of the way that theatre actually functions for audiences.

Semiotics’ enabling gesture of severing theatrical spaces, objects, performers, and actions from praxis proved to be its Achilles heel. The semiotic perspective neglects, and even negates, precisely what, for many scholars and audiences, is most salient and compelling about theatrical performance: its status as performance, as an event in the world that engages living human beings both on stage and off, and not merely as a species of text.[1]

By the 1980s a number of semioticians began to run up against the limits of the semiotic paradigm. Some attempted to fix the problem through an additive process, trying to keep the semiotic model intact and supplementing it with other theoretical approaches. For example, writing in 1982, de Marinis acknowledges that ‘the study of theater sub specie semioticae does not exhaust all aspects of theater. Like every other cultural object, theater is not only signification and communication, even if it can be understood more fully if one approaches it from the standpoint of signification and communication’ (de Marinis [1982] 1992, 1). He notes that ‘Up to now, semiotic approaches to theater generally operated [...] within a structuralist framework’ that failed to recognize ‘the conditions of its production and reception’ (3). To address this lacuna, he divides his analysis into two distinct parts: the first dealing with ‘co-textual’ (structuralist) aspects of theatre, and the second, with ‘contextual’ (pragmatic) aspects. Similarly, Jean Alter, in his 1990 book A Socio-Semiotic Theory of Theatre, sharply distinguishes what he calls the ‘referential’ function of performance, that is, the display of objects, people, and language that function as signs, from the ‘performant’ function, which highlights the material, sensual presence of bodies, objects, and sounds. Alter argues that in theatre,

every sign invites a close scrutiny of its materiality, a potential source of aesthetic or erotic appeal. In a dialogue, we identify spoken works as signifiers by the perception of their distinctly coded sound; but, at the same time, we pay attention to the pleasant or unpleasant quality of the voice. A common signifier of a king [sic] status is a crown on the actor’s head: but while acknowledging the crown as [a] sign of royalty, we may also appreciate it as a jeweler’s creation. (Alter 1990, 25)

Bert O. States, in his 1985 phenomenological study of theatre Great Reckonings in Little Rooms, comes at the problem from the opposite direction and ends up in much the same place. He criticizes semiotics for ‘its almost imperialistic confidence in its product: that is, its implicit belief that you have exhausted a thing’s interest when you have explained how it works as a sign’ (States 1985, 7). By contrast, he describes his own phenomenological project as focusing ‘on the activity of theater making itself out of its essential materials: speech, sound, movement, scenery, text, etc.’ (1). Like Alter, States embraces a binary model of theatre, in his case designating the two aspects ‘semiotic’ and ‘phenomenological’. Rather than proposing phenomenology as an alternative to semiotics, he diplomatically proposes ‘that semiotics and phenomenology are best seen as complementary perspectives on the world and on art’ (8).

Once semioticians replaced the sweeping proposition that everything on stage is a sign with the far more modest claim that there are signs in the theatre, or more precisely, that people and objects in the theatre function on many levels simultaneously, including, sometimes, as signs, semiotics could no longer serve as the foundation for a unified theory of theatre. In the forward to his 1982 book Languages of the Stage: Essays in the Semiology of Theatre, Patrice Pavis looks back nostalgically to a time ‘less than ten years ago’ when ‘the now rhetorical question of the possibility of a semiology of theatre was not yet incongruous’, and acknowledges that ‘recent developments in theatre studies have made a global treatise on semiology, if not out of place, at least extremely problematical’ (Pavis 1982, 20).

Theory construction vs. conceptual analysis

Fernando de Toro published the initial Spanish-language edition of his contribution to the semiotics of theatre in 1987, and the English edition followed in 1995; in the intervening eight years, he ruefully observes, ‘the whole semiotic and structuralist paradigm came tumbling down strenuously with the emergence of the Post-Structuralists and Deconstructionists. It seemed after a while that producing diagrams and arrows had been unnecessarily obtrusive and did not get us anywhere’ (Toro 1995, 1-2). As the semiotic edifice was collapsing in the late 1980s, new paradigms, most notably clustering around concepts of social identity and performativity, were gaining prominence that might, potentially, have formed the foundation for a new overarching theory of theatre, but the demise of semiotics occurred at a critical moment when there was little appetite for embarking on such theoretical endeavours. In his hugely influential essay on ‘The Postmodern Condition’, Jean-François Lyotard famously proclaimed the end of metanarratives (Lyotard 1984). Jacques Derrida’s devastating critique of Western logocentricism and the principles of Enlightenment rationalism — which began with a deconstruction of the work of Husserl and Saussure, founding figures of phenomenology and structural linguistics, respectively — was making deep inroads among Anglo-American scholars in literature and the arts (Derrida 1973; Derrida 1976).

While the impact of the poststructuralist revolution was more muted within the analytic tradition that dominated Anglo-American philosophy than it was in literature and the arts (in no small part because structuralism itself never established a strong grip on analytic philosophers), by the early 1990s a similar aversion to totalizing theories and metanarratives had taken root within that tradition. Peter Kivy, in his 1993 presidential address to the American Society for Aesthetics, asserts that:

Progress in the philosophy of art in the immediate future is to be made not by theorizing in the grand manner, but by careful and imaginative philosophical scrutiny of the individual arts and their individual problems. We can no longer hover above our subject matter like Gods from machines, bestowing theory upon a practice in sublime and sometimes even boastful ignorance of what takes place in the dirt and mess of the workshop. (Kivy 1993, 128)

Kivy advocates an approach to philosophical inquiry that tackles individual problems in depth, one at a time, from multiple perspectives, rather than a top-down approach that attempts to derive a field’s broad theoretical infrastructure from a limited number of key ideas and then use that overarching theory to address specific features and problems.

Kivy’s scepticism about grand theorizing and his insistence that philosophical inquiry about art be firmly rooted in lived experience, in this case artistic practice, taps into a major current in twentieth century analytic philosophy. In particular, it harkens back to the approach to philosophy that Ludwig Wittgenstein developed during the second phase of his philosophical career. The writings and lectures that Wittgenstein produced in Cambridge from 1929-1947, culminating in the posthumous publication of Philosophical Investigations in 1953, had a revolutionary impact on numerous fields of philosophical inquiry, including the philosophy of language, psychology, epistemology, action, science, and mathematics. Many of the specific concepts and approaches he developed have direct implications for theatre and performance theory. The most significant example is Wittgenstein’s concept of ‘language games’. This conception of language upended the presupposition that language functions primarily to communicate, convey meaning, or picture reality — a presupposition that formed the basis of almost all previous work in the philosophy of language including his own earlier Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) and is the enabling premise underlying semiotic theory — and ushered in the field that J.L. Austin a few years later would dub ‘speech act theory’. Another example is Wittgenstein’s analysis of perception, and in particular the phenomenon of ‘seeing as’, which has been immensely influential within the analytic philosophy of art, and, I have argued, offers an effective way to understand the role representation plays in theatrical performance (see Saltz 2006).

My primary focus here, however, is not on any specific concept or insight to be found within Wittgenstein’s work, but on the way Wittgenstein redefined the nature of philosophical activity. Wittgenstein disparages the tendency to reduce the complexities and richness of lived reality to abstractions and generalizations by making sweeping pronouncements about topics such as, for example, language, subjective experience, and ethics. Such generalizations permeate both the folk philosophy that constitutes what we call ‘common sense’ and formal philosophical pronouncements advanced by professional philosophers. Consequently, he dedicates much of his effort to exposing, interrogating, and ultimately dissolving a-priori theoretical generalizations, such as that ‘words signify objects’, that are not merely highly reductive and misleading, but very often give rise to pseudo-problems that preoccupy philosophers. For Wittgenstein, philosophy is not a process of theory construction but a therapeutic activity, a way of unraveling the conceptual muddles created by traditional philosophy. Philosophers need to attend carefully to the way people actually use words to understand the work they do and the role they play within the particular language games of which they are a part: ‘When philosophers use a word—“knowledge”, “being”, “object”, “I”, “proposition”, “name”, — and try to grasp the essence of the thing, one must always ask oneself: is the word ever actually used this way in the language which is its original home?’ (Wittgenstein 1958, 116). He famously suggests that ‘For a large class of cases—though not for all— in which we employ the word ‘meaning’ it can be explained thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the language’ (43). Importantly, he rejects any effort to enforce philosophical dogmas, including and especially regarding the method of philosophy itself: “there is not a philosophical method, though there are indeed methods, like different therapies’ (133).

Richard Wollheim’s landmark book Art and Its Objects, first published in 1968, initiated an era of discourse in the philosophy of art that is, in important respects, Wittgensteinian in spirit. Wollheim rejects attempts by earlier philosophers to define a timeless essence of art or aesthetic experience. Instead he recognizes that art is a collection of historical social practices (Wollheim 1980, 151), and explicitly invokes Wittgenstein when he describes art as a ‘form of life’ (104). He starts with what looks like a typically philosophical question: ‘What is art?’ But rather than giving us the sort of answer we might expect from a philosopher, a definition of art, ‘a unitary answer, an answer of the form “Art is …”’ (1), he starts by considering a remarkably obvious and literal hypothesis: ‘that works of art are physical objects’ (4). This proposition sets him off on a rich and circuitous path of inquiry. Along the way, he ends up delving deeply into issues concerning ontology, expression, representation, and interpretation. He reaches some significant conclusions: for example, he eventually draws a distinction between individual art forms, such as sculpture, in which works of art are indeed physical objects, and multiple art forms, such as poetry, in which the art object is a type concept. (Importantly, such distinctions are not inherent in the objects themselves, but in the social practices in which those objects are embedded.) He never, however, purports to offer a complete and self-contained theory of art. Wollheim’s book marks the start of a lively, productive, and sustained discourse in the philosophy of art that continues to the present day. The transformative impact that Wollheim’s book had on the philosophy of art derives, not from its conclusions, but from the types of questions it addresses and the way it goes about addressing them.

This neo-Wittgensteinian mode of philosophical analysis represents a powerful alternative to the sort of top-down theory that semiotics exemplifies, and provides a way to re-frame questions about theatre and performance. For example, one of the central challenges for theatre semiotics was to define the relationship between the dramatic text and performance text. Notice that the way semiotics formulates the issue already limits the range of solution we can provide. It takes as given that we are dealing with two parallel texts, each of which functions as a sign or set of signs. I call this the ‘two-text’ model of theatre. This perspective naturally led many semioticians to describe the relationship of text to performance as one of translation or transcodification. However, the two-text model does not correspond with the way we actually talk about theatrical performance. When we go to the theatre, we typically say that we are going to see a play. At first blush, one might be inclined to suggest that the terms ‘play’ and ‘dramatic text’ are synonymous, but they actually work very differently. When I look at a copy of a script, I am ‘seeing a dramatic text’. When I see a play, I am seeing the dramatic text performed. So does it follow that the term ‘play’ is synonymous with ‘performance text’? No. Significantly, we can also use the word ‘play’ to refer to the printed script, for example if we say ‘I just bought the play from Amazon’, or ‘I’ve read the play but I haven’t seen it yet’. So the word ‘play’ seems to refer both to the performance text and the dramatic text. If we remain under the sway of semiotic theory, we might be tempted to reject our ordinary way of speaking as sloppy, and propose that the word ‘play’ actually has two meanings. However, if we pause to consider more carefully how we are using the word, we will see that the real problem is that the two-text model fails to capture the logic of theatrical performance. ‘Play’, as Wollheim observed, is a type concept. Specifically, a play is a type of performance. The relationship between play and performance is not one of translation (indeed if we consider the matter closely we’ll see that being the translation of a play is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for being a performance of that play). The relationship is one of instantiation. The text of a play, then, is a component that contributes to the definition of the play-type; in order for a performance to be a performance of Hamlet, it needs to incorporate the dialogue of the play in a particular way. What, exactly, that way is depends on a set of performance conventions that can change over time and vary from one community to another; in other words, a performance that counts as Hamlet for one audience may not for another. This approach to the text/performance question opens up a whole range of new questions. What exactly are the conventions that define the performance of a play? How do those conventions vary? How do the conventions that define the performance of plays relate to those that define other performance-types, such as performance art, commedia dell'arte scenarios, rituals, games, symphonies, or songs? (For a more detailed discussion of some of these questions, see Saltz 1995).

The lively and productive discourse in philosophical aesthetics has lavished considerable attention on the visual arts and music, but until recently philosophers touched on theatre only in passing. At the same time, this analytic philosophical discourse passed almost entirely under the radar of performance and theatre scholars. For a number of years, I occupied a somewhat peculiar position as a performance theorist engaged in the world of philosophical aesthetics (see Saltz, 2001). The past decade, however, has seen a growing number of philosophical investigations into theatre and performance. In addition to the essays collected in Staging Philosophy (Krasner and Saltz, 2006) and a growing number of articles about theatre in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, there have been important book-length analyses of theatre by James Hamilton (2007), Paul Woodruff (2008), Tom Stern (2013), and Tzachi Zamir (2014). The floodgates seem finally to have opened, and there is a renewed interest in exploring fundamental questions about theatre and performance from a philosophical perspective.

It is important to stress that the approach to theoretical inquiry that I am extolling here — one that resists the rush to generalize and attends closely to the way that words and concepts actually function within specific communities of discourse — is by no means unique to the analytic tradition. Though different in important ways from most analytic philosophers, and indeed from each other, continental philosophers such as Derrida, Foucault and Deleuze all exemplify these qualities.[2] Moreover, though I urge scepticism toward efforts to construct totalizing theories, my arguments here should not be construed as a blanket rejection of such efforts; ambitious theoretical models can have great explanatory power. For example, Kendall Walton builds an expansive account of representation in the arts on the simple premise that representation is rooted in viewers’ acts of ‘make-believe’ (Walton 1990). This conception of representation is radically different from, and in my view far more compelling than, the semiotic model, and, perhaps most important, in the process of arguing meticulously in support of his own unifying premise and against rival theories, Walton generates a wealth of cogent insights and provocations that are valuable regardless of whether or not one is persuaded to purchase his theory tout court.[3] The crucial point is that whether we adopt concepts from other theorists or invent our own, we should dig into those concepts deeply and question them patiently, carefully considering their implications, alternatives, limitations, and potential flaws. Moreover, we should ceaselessly challenge our own assumptions and our tendency to settle too quickly on pat theoretical formulas and credos. Most important, we should never shy away from asking basic questions for fear of violating the theoretical orthodoxy du jour. As Derrida eloquently proclaims: ‘it is necessary to keep philosophy as open-ended and unlimited questioning alive. The continual effort to worry over presuppositions, to keep on questioning and talking, is what is called philosophy, and that must be kept going’ (Derrida 1997, 65-66).


[1] John Searle’s contention that the theatrical frame strips all speech acts on stage of their illocutionary force comports with the semiotic conception of theatre as removed from praxis; it is not surprising, therefore, that semioticians uncritically embraced Searle’s conclusion. I have argued, however, that this widely accepted view about speech acts is simply incorrect, and that it is entirely possible for a speech act performed in the context of a play to satisfy all of Searle’s own conditions for an utterance to have illocutionary force (Saltz 1991).

[2] In particular, a number of writers have pointed out the significant parallels between Wittgenstein’s and Derrida’s approaches (see Stanten 1986; Dasenbrock 1989; and Wheeler 2000). Derrida’s practice of “deconstruction” is, like Wittgenstein’s, descriptive rather than prescriptive. It involves very close reading of what writers do with their words and concepts—which often contradicts their own theoretical formulations and reductions.

[3] In his own presidential address to the American Society for Aesthetics, Walton explicitly rebuts Kivy’s injunction against grand theorizing and defends his own approach to philosophy as ‘theory construction’.

Works Cited

Alter, Jean. 1990. A Sociosemiotic Theory of Theatre. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Dasenbrock, Reed Way. 1989. Redrawing the Lines: Analytic Philosophy, Deconstruction, and Literary Theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

De Marinis, Marco. (1982) 1992. The Semiotics of Performance. Translated by Áine O’Healy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Derrida, Jacques. 1973. Speech and Phenomena and Other Essays on Husserl’s Theory of Signs. Translated by David B. Allison. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

———. 1976. Of Grammatology. Translated by Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

———. 1997. Deconstruction in a Nutshell: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida. Edited by John D. Caputo. New York: Fordham University Press.

Eco. Umberto. 1976. A Theory of Semiotics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Elam, Keir. 1977. ‘Language in the Theater.’ Sub-Stance 18/19: 139-62.

Fischer-Lichte, Erika. 1992. The Semiotics of Theater. Translated by Jeremy Gains and Doris L. Jones. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Hamilton, James R. 2007. The Art of Theater. Malden MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Kivy, Peter. 1993. ‘Differences.’ Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 51 (2): 123-132.

Knowles, Ric. 2004. Reading the Material Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Krasner, David and David Z. Saltz, eds. 2006. Staging Philosophy: Intersections of Theatre, Performance and Philosophy. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Lyotard, Jean-François. 1984. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Translated by Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Pavis, Patrice. 1982. Languages of the Stage: Essays in the Semiology of Theatre. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications.

Peirce, Charles Sanders. 1931-58. Collected Writings. Edited by Charles Hartshorne, Paul Weiss and Arthur W Burks. 8 vols. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Rozik, Eli. 2014. Theatre Sciences: A Please for a Multidisciplinary Approach to Theatre Studies. Brighton UK: Sussex Academic Press.

Saltz, David Z. 1991. ‘How To Do Things On Stage.’ The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 49 (1): 31-45.

———. 1995. ‘When Is the Play the Thing?: Analytic Aesthetics and Dramatic Theory.’ Theatre Research International 20 (3): 266-276.

———. 2001. ‘Why Performance Theory Needs Philosophy.’ Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 16 (1): 149-154.

———. 2006. ‘Infiction: The Role of Fiction in Theatrical Performance.’ In Staging Philosophy: Intersections of Theatre, Performance and Philosophy, edited by David Krasner and David Z. Saltz, 203-220. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Staten, Henry. 1986. Wittgenstein and Derrida. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Stern, Tom. 2013. Philosophy and Theatre: An Introduction. Abingdon: Routledge.

Toro, Fernando de. 1995. Theatre Semiotics: Text and Staging in Modern Theatre. Translated by John Lewis. Revised and Edited by Carole Hubbard. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Veltrusky, Jiri. (1940) 1964. ‘Man and Object in the Theater.’ In A Prague School Reader on Esthetics, Literary Structure and Style, edited and translated by Paul L. Garvin, 83-91. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.

Walton, Kendall. 1990. Mimesis as Make-Believe: On the Foundations of the Representational Arts. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

———. 2007. ‘Aesthetics—What? Why? And Wherefore?’ Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 65 (2): 147-161.

Wheeler, Samuel C. 2000. Deconstruction as Analytic Philosophy. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1958. Philosophical Investigations. Translated by G.E.M. Anscombe. 3rd edition. New York: Macmillan Publishing.

Wollheim, Richard. 1980. Art and Its Objects. 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Woodruff, Paul. 2008. The Necessity of Theater. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Zamir, Tzachi. 2014. Acts: Theatre, Philosophy, and the Performing Self. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.


David Saltz is Head of the Department of Theatre and Film Studies and Executive Director of Ideas for Creative Exploration at the University of Georgia. He is co-editor, with David Krasner, of Staging Philosophy: Intersections of Theater, Performance, and Philosophy, and has published numerous essays in the philosophy of theatre and performance in journals including The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Performance Research, the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, and Theatre Research International. His latest book, Performance and Media: Taxonomies for a Changing Field, co-authored with Sarah Bay-Cheng and Jennifer Parker-Starbuck, is forthcoming for the University of Michigan Press.