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This panel explores the aesthetics of exemplarity: the networked process of performance, emulation, and revision through which rules of social conduct are made and remade. What formal and communicative devices mark performances that seek to revitalize established rules or to propose new ones?
The rule must be abstracted from the deed,... against which others may test their own talent, letting it serve them as a model not for copying but for emulation.
Rules invite a range of responses in action. They can be grudgingly acknowledged, bent, evaded, ostentatiously observed, flagrantly transgressed, or painstakingly revised. In the interplay between these last three possibilities lies exemplarity: the networked process of performance, emulation, and revision through which rules of social conduct are made and remade.
A concrete action becomes exemplary when it is understood as pointing toward a model or rule, but the example will also always do much more. The intrinsic abundance of the performed example may strengthen a rule, but also threaten to overthrow or upend it.
This panel addresses the aesthetics of exemplarity as the space of performance that falls between observance and transgression. Rules are most stable when they are least visible. Thus, when a performance calls attention to the rules, and by extension to itself, it is an indicator of conflict and/or change in the air.
We seek papers exploring the communicative and formal means through which particular performances of conduct set themselves up as examples, inviting reflection on the rules as well as emulation by other actors. The aesthetics of carnivalesque or inversive transgression have been much studied. What aesthetic and affective devices do actors call upon not to ridicule an established order, but to propose its revitalization or replacement?