Clare Foster

Framing, reframing, and the attribution of value

This paper asks about the extent to which practices of documentation participate in the events and objects they purport to record. It explores some ways in which a work, event, or object consists in the acts of framing and reframing which give rise to it. It proposes an approach to culture which sees it as driven less by the autonomous appeal of works than by their ‘recognition capital’ (the title of my forthcoming book). In a digital era capacities to recognise operate as a kind of currency, although immanent values are nevertheless constantly claimed and referred to – indeed, more than ever (from Star Wars prequels to Shakespeare to the resurgence of Greek drama to recent 60s performance art revivals, which vividly raise the question of where the work is located, what it is, and who policies those definitions). I show how claims to immanent value, or ‘greatness’ – if seen as a collective communication – operate themselves to attribute value, and control significance. Authority and agency belong to whoever controls the frame, or label – via various forms of representation, reproduction, repetition, or revival. Sharing insights from the first three years of seminars of the Cambridge Interdisciplinary Performance Network (

The paper offers an approach which thinks less in terms of performances, or performance studies, than the utility of performance as a concept to interrogate the conventional distinction between events and their documentation, or objects and the discourses which surround them.

Clare Foster: Dr Clare Foster writes and teaches writing for theatre and film. A founding co-convenor of the Cambridge Interdisciplinary Performance Network at the University of Cambridge (, she is currently a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow at UCL’s Deparment of Greek and Latin, researching the history of the concept of adaptation in Britain c. 1814-1945 (‘Recognition Capital’). From 1994-2009 she was a full time screenwriter based in Los Angeles, specialising in literary and historical adaptations.