Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Susan Carlson

Second Advisor

Scott Consigny


I begin this study by developing a theory of performance useful for analyzing various artifacts. This version of performance studies incorporates insights from the rhetorical tradition, narrative theory, and visual theory;I combine these performance philosophies with the language theories of Michel Foucault to further develop an understanding of the energy of performance. Foucault's theory of problematization provides a framework for understanding how individual interpretations develop from the cultural context of the text at hand. Foucault's approach to language is postmodern: he acknowledges the social, situated, power-laden nature of our linguistic constructions. Foucault's analysis encourages an awareness of the specific contexts and power relationships we bring to a performance's interpretation, including the specific social and historical contexts which assisted the generation of the performance;I combine Foucault's idea of problematization and my amplification of performance theory in the analysis of an artifact created by performance artist Laurie Anderson. In Anderson's film Home of the Brave, she considers the idea of bravery and how we enact bravery in our culture. In analyzing cultural constructions of bravery, she performs various pieces that explore Americans' use of bravery in the face of several threats, including nuclear annihilation, madness, and everyday distractions. My study analyzes particular performances from her film, using my understanding of her narratives and visuals combined with Foucault's idea of problematization. My problematization of Anderson's work includes an examination of the cultural meanings of bravery present when she created the performances in Home of the Brave;Finally I suggest future uses for my combination of performance theory and problematization. My synthesis allows for a different kind of artifact analysis, one that focuses on cultural forces and power relationships. In professional communication, problematization of performances can be used to analyze various speeches, meetings, and texts relevant to communication in business and technical contexts. This combination can also be used in the classroom to analyze various educational concerns, including roles of teachers and students, the establishment of agency, and the impact of texts and contexts on the educational environment.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Kirstin Jean Cronn-Mills



Proquest ID


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File Size

222 pages