Document Type


Author Biography

Stephan Besser is assistant professor of modern Dutch literature at the University of Amsterdam and a researcher at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA). He coedits the book series Experimental Practices: Encounters across Arts, Sciences, Humanities (Brill).


This essay explores the fascination with performance and performance art in contemporary fiction in relation to post-Fordist culture and society. I employ the concept of general performance in order to analyze configurations of artistic, professional, and economic performance in Niña Weijers’s novel The Consequences (2014) and Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island (2015). The readings demonstrate that, in different ways, both novels imagine performance as a key practice at the intersection of art, life, and labor. While Satin Island presents a bleak view of generalized post-Fordist performance, The Consequences insists on discontinuities between artistic and other forms of performance. The essay makes a case for general performance as a key concept for the study of the imagination of immaterial and creative labor in twenty-first-century fiction.