Richard Bauman
Verbal Art as Performance
(1975, 1977)

Richard Bauman, Verbal Art as Performance, American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 77, No. 2 (June 1975), pp.290–311.

Richard Bauman, Verbal Art as Performance [1977], nouvelle édition, Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press, 1984.

Un art de parole (verbal art) comme l'art du conteur n'existe, in performance, que lorsque le performer (l'artiste) est en action devant un auditoire. La performance (le spectacle) subvertit les usages référentiels du langage en créant tacitement un cadre d'interprétation. «Attention! dit l'artiste à l'auditeur ou spectateur, les mots que je prononce doivent être pris au second degré.»

"Performance represents a transformation of the basic referential ("serious," "normal"…) uses of language. In other words, in artistic performance of this kind, there is something going on in the communicative interchange which says to the auditor, "interpret what I say in some special sense; do not take it to mean what the words alone, taken literally, would convey."… Performance sets up, or represents, an interpretive frame within which the messages being communicated are to be understood, and … this frame contrasts with at least one other frame, the literal. In employing the term "frame" here, I am drawing … on the powerful insights of Gregory Bateson and the more recent and equally provocative work of Erving Goffman (Frame Analysis, 1974)."

Vingt-cinq ans plus tard, dans une rétrospective, Bauman rappelle sa dette à l'égard de Jakobson et Goffman.

Richard Bauman, Disciplinarity, Reflexivity, and Power in Verbal Art as Performance: A Response, The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 115, No. 455, Toward New Perspectives on Verbal Art as Performance (Winter, 2002), pp. 92–98.

(94) Thus, it would be fair to say that my notions of performance did not diffuse from folklore into linguistic anthropology; they were oriented toward linguistic anthropology from the start, and, insofar as Verbal Art represents a significant formulation of those ideas, they were introduced into scholarly discourse under the sponsorship of that subdiscipline of anthropology. I feel it worth mentioning that, notwithstanding the gratifying response by folklorists to the ideas presented in Verbal Art, my colleagues in linguistic anthropology have exploited essential aspects of the approach developed in Verbal Art that folklorists on the whole—although with notable exceptions, including the authors of the essays in this issue—have not been inclined to pursue, namely, the formal constituents of performance, the relationships that tie poetic form to social function and interpretive meaning, and the broader role of performance in the conduct of social life.

In the process of attempting to refine and specify more clearly my developing notion of performance in the writing of Verbal Art, I was strongly inspired by Prague School poetics in the work of Roman Jakobson and his colleagues in prewar Prague, especially Jan Mukarovsky, and by Erving Goffman's frame analysis, to which I was introduced by Goffman's lectures and by conversations with him even before the publication of Frame Analysis in 1974. Prague School poetics, especially as developed in Mukarovsky's and Jakobson's writings on the poetic function, and Jakobson's writings on the metalingual function, parallelism, and shifters, rests centrally on dimensions of linguistic reflexivity, the capacity of language to refer to itself, to treat itself as an object (Jakobson 1960, 1966, 1971, 1980; Mukarovsky 1968a, 1968b, 1970). Likewise, Goffman's notion of metacommunicative framing is a fundamentally reflexive concept, and although it extends well beyond linguistic reflexivity in Goffman's formulation, he was keenly interested in language, and his lengthy chapter on the frame analysis of talk had a considerable shaping influence on my conception of performance.