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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Mathilde Perallat (Perahia), Humanities

D’autres cirques à Montréal : représentations artistiques d’une pensée queer du monde

Date & time
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 (all day)

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Daniela Ferrer



When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


Circus has always had an equivocal relationship to the normate, and by association to social mores. These social mores, as they evolve, necessary alter social representations in circus performance, as this dissertation will demonstrate. These representations have changed considerably over the last forty years, particularly in Europe and Québec. The circus arts in Québec have created a flourishing economy, thanks to companies that are recognized throughout the world, and that have generated easily recognized reproductible aesthetics, presenting a vision of the world that is global, productive and all about mastery. As such, that circus has slowly internalized social norms, or rather, has established a new normate. In the Québec circus ecosystem, particularly that of Montréal, there are artists who do not adhere to the values and aesthetics promoted by its main companies. Lesser known artists and collectives, exploring the margins, have proposed performances that question the social and aesthetic normate and thereby renew and enrich Quebec circus. This dissertation follows and analyses several performances by two distinct artistic groups, firstly the communally-driven Productions Carmagnole, and, secondly, a group of four artists: Andréane Leclerc, Claudel Doucet, Émile Pineault and François Bouvier that clearly point to the emergence of what could be called "performative circus." Their work is examined through the blurred and ever-changing contours of a queer philosophy that establishes a thinking of the world outside of the norm and provides a conceptual approach to studying circus performance. Two independent analyses, demonstrate that the current forms of performative circus in fact deconstruct circus expectations and techniques by eschewing the spectacular and instead valuing the relationship to the self and to the social world. This deconstruction allows for a symbolic quest to push the boundaries of the physical, psychological and social limits. This art-making is above all a process, an experience for everyone involved that provides meaning to the artists and the community. Ultimately, by presenting worldviews that are different from those that have made the Québec circus so successful, these performances create new circus forms in Montréal, renewing and revitalizing the form and practice of Québec’s ever-evolving contemporary circus environment.

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