In his project monograph, J. Küpper presents the findings of the entire project concerning the basic metaphor of culture as a virtual network. In a second part, the book exemplifies the theoretical model by describing Early Modern European drama, its emergence and evolution, with recourse to the theoretical model. In a third part, it presents succinct case studies elucidating specific problems that result from the application of the network metaphor to cultural phenomena. This third and last part also contains an extended critical engagement with the antagonist position in terms of theory, Herder’s concept of national cultures (including its derivatives up to Post-colonialism).
The Cultural Net – Early Modern Drama as Paradigm. Berlin/Boston. De Gruyter 2017. In press. Open Access Publication.
At first glance, the Volksschauspiele, or folk plays, seem far removed from any relevant literature. Closer consideration reveals that they are clearly embedded in the framework of highly canonical Early Modern European literatures. Using the example of dramatic texts from the historical county of Tyrol, the project aimed to view folk plays as a crystallization of drama circulation in the European cultural net.
The results of this research study are to be published unter the title: "Volksschauspiele. Rekonstruktion und Dimensionen einer Gattung", 2019 (forthcoming).
Toni Bernhart was co-convenor of the DramaNet conference on Poetics and Politics. In cooperation with Janina Janke, he staged the German "Griseldis" Volksschauspiel at the Benedictine Marienberg abbey of Mals, Tyrol, in November 2016.
Bildquelle: Alexander Gehring
The project explores two conceptual approaches to the theory of the cultural net by analysing Early Modern European academies in terms of of theatrical devices. First, I will examine the function of cultural brokers like the Italian author Stefano Guazzo (1530-1593) whose writings transmitted the academic thought mainly to France. Second, I will adopt another fundamental concept of the net-metaphor – the meaning of cultural knots. The cultural knot I want to have a closer look at, in order to analyse the Italian-Spanish transfer of academic concepts and practices around 1600, will be the kingdom of Naples.
The project investigates the transcultural “floating of Early Modern European drama material to the non-occidental East” featuring the persona of late-eighteenth-century Russian musician, theatre-director, traveler, linguist, Indologist and spy, Gerasim Lebedev (1749-1818) as a sample case model. In 1795, he directed The Disguise (a comedy by R. P. Jodrell) „in Bengalee style“, making it the first “modern” play to be staged on the Indian Subcontinent. The evolving process of the hybridization of Anglo-European drama is studied through the prisms of India's own hoary dramaturgical and poetical traditions: primarily Bharata Muni's Nātyaśāstra ancient India's foremost academic treatise on drama, dramaturgy and related themes, and Stephen Greenblatt's theoretical formulation of New Historicism.
The Škofja Loka Passion Play (orig. Škofjeloški pasijon) was written in 1725-27 by Capuchin friar Romuald. As one of the earliest existing dramatic texts written in Slovene, it is considered to be one of the highest achievements in Slovene Baroque literature, as well as the only fully preserved promptbook for passion plays of the European Baroque era. Škofjeloški pasijon had been investigated mainly in the context of Slovene Baroque literature: while isolated aspects of the text such as style, verse or issues concerning the dating of the manuscript have been highlighted, its impact within the (Central) European tradition of passion plays or of its literary models remained almost untouched. In order to understand the genesis of Škofjeloški pasijon, the vast genre-specific and dynamic intercultural net administered by the Catholic Church for centuries was to be reconstructed, which permitted new insights into the historical development of (Central) European passion plays.
Drnovšek, Jaša. 2016. Frühneuzeitliche Passionsprozessionsspiele als Projekt der katholischen Erneuerung, in Themes of Polemical Theology Across Early Modern Literary Genres, L. Nicholas, A. Riedl and S. Zavarský (eds.). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing: 323-335.
Drnovšek, Jaša. 2016. V negibnih stopinjah. Zgodnjenovoveške pasijonske procesijske igre, katoliška obnova in Škofjeloški pasijon, Pasijonski doneski 11: 87-102.
Drnovšek, J. 2017. Certa Mina Dant VICtorIas. Die Prozessionsspiele der Gegenreformation und der katholischen Reform zwischen Politik und Poetik. publisher tbc. forthcoming.
This project addresses the themes of breaths, sighs and spirits as key elements marking the encounter between body and soul, between the physical and the immaterial, between senses and emotions. The terms, concepts and metaphors associated with breaths, sighs and spirits are investigated in their literary representations in the romance literature of the Middle Ages. From the survey of texts, a well-defined set of terms and concepts is identified, drawing the “map” and the “vocabulary” of this encounter between body and soul. The classical and early medieval influences on these themes are reconstructed and the presence and relevance of these themes in medieval culture highlighted. Research is based on texts in langue d’oc, langue d’oïl and ancient Italian, exploring the connections between literary texts and medical and philosophical treatises. A specific investigation on DramaNet themes addresses the medieval dramatic representations of the contrast between body and soul.
Gubbini, G. 2017. Body and Soul: Medieval Dramatisations. publisher tbc. forthcoming.
The Early Modern carnivalesque cultures in France and Italy are investigated from a comparative perspective, considering them within the dramatic context of performed masculinity. Performed by traditional societies of merry men (compagnies joyeuses/gaie compagnie) institutionally solicited to organize the festive events in urban settings, the carnivalesque drama is perceived in both the narrow sense of a theatrical play as well as in the broad sense of a ritual drama (V. Turner), i.e. not as a universal space of subversion strictly opposed to the official (M. Bakhtin), but as a gendered liminal space of constructing masculinity through a substantial palette of burlesque performances.
Gvozdeva, K. 2014. Savoirs ludiques. Pratiques de divertissement et émergence d’institutions, doctrines et disciplines dans l’Europe moderne. Ed. with A. Stroev, Paris: Champion 2014. pp 303.
Gvozdeva, Katja and Hans Rudolf Velten. 2011. Medialität der Prozession. Performanz ritueller Bewegung in Texten und Bildern der Vormoderne / Médialité de la procession. Performance du mouvement rituel en textes et en images à l'époque prémoderne. Heidelberg. Winter. 400pp. Online.
Astronomical objects made their appearance on stage frequently in the ‘long’ eighteenth century, equally at the levels of content, form and theatrical practices. Historical plays were strongly indebted to premodern historiography, which itself was based on astronomical and astrological concepts, thus providing a common framework for notions of time, fate, probability and necessity. While astronomy was indispensable to chronology and to setting a universal time frame, which was particularly important in this era with many competing chronological systems still in use, astrology figured as a semiotic technique by which astral messages referring both to collective and individual events could be deciphered. Astrological issues were not only prominent in Calderón de la Barca’s famous La vida es sueño (1636), but in a variety of 17th and 18th century plays as well. This was obviously the case in early Wallenstein plays (Vernulz, Glapthorne, Testi), as well as in plays about the Mogul emperor Tamerlane. Frequently, not only the dramatis personae, but the historical persons whom they were modelled after as well, related their rule to astronomical events, thus establishing a political hermeneutics of how certain celestial signs should be read. Based on the concept of similitudo temporis, early modern historical plays were not only concerned with Roman emperors, but also adapted many astronomical elements of their imperial cults, thus analogising early modern imperialism to Roman antiquity. The comparative approach of this project will enable investigation of Spanish, English and German drama as a means of mass communication through which important geopolitical issues were transmitted and negotiated. References to astronomical and astrological elements on stage were by no means independent from contemporary cosmological debates, and as far as literal ascents and descents of personae were concerned, such references were also related to technical premises. Hence, astronomical and astrological elements in drama will be considered against the background of contemporary scientific concepts and practices. To this end, early modern dramatic texts will furthermore be contextualized in relation to other popular genres such as almanacs, comet pamphlets and astrological diaries.
Bildquelle: Ragnar Schmuck
The project focuses on questions applying to the theoretical field on the archaeology of concepts regarding text and scripture – acting on the hypothesis that both drama and print brought along considerable changes not only in technical terms but also (and maybe in an even more comprehensive way) with regard to subjacent theoretical matters. The joint consideration of these two phenomena opened a new perspective on the history of Early Modern drama in Europe.
In 2015, S. T. Kilian was part of the organizing committee of the DramaNet conference on Poetics and Politics.
Kilian, Sven Thorsten. 2017. Escrituras andantes. Concepts of Text and Scripture in Early Modern Drama. publisher tbc, forthcoming.
The project aims to provide compelling answers to questions concerning theatre audiences of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, their influence on theatrical discourses and the role of the spectator in eighteenth-century dramatic and aesthetic criticism. By defining and delineating the formation and evolution of the Italian theatre public from the mid-Seicento through the late Settecento, this book pioneers a shift in the way we think about the audience as both theoretical concept and historical phenomenon. More specifically, this study investigates and then moves beyond spectatorship per se to explore and analyze its reflexive relationship with social and cultural politics in Italy, especially as they concern sovereignty, power structures, and the emergent public sphere.
Korneeva, T. 2017. The Dramaturgy of the Spectator: Theatre, Audience, and the Public Sphere in Late Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Italy. publisher tbc, forthcoming. Open Access Publication.
In November 2013, Tatiana Korneeva co-organized the DramaNet conference Dramatic Experience. She also organised the final DramaNet event on History and Drama in October 2016, together with J. Küpper and J. Drnovšek.
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Dr. DS Mayfield studied American, English, and Spanish Literature at Würzburg University, and Comparative Literature in Berlin and Cambridge (UK). In 2015, he was Global Humanities Junior Research and Teaching Fellow at Johns Hopkins University. An alumnus of the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School and the ERC-funded DramaNet project (both at Freie Universität Berlin), he is currently writing his habilitation, focusing on Early Modern drama (Rojas, Machiavelli, Shakespeare) with Blumenberg as a theoretical framework.
A monograph entitled Artful Immorality – Variants of Cynicism. Machiavelli, Gracián, Diderot, Nietzsche was published in 2015 (link), the edited volume Rhetoric and Drama appeared in 2017 (link), both with de Gruyter.
His most recent articles are: “‘Against the Dog only a dog’. Talking Canines Civilizing Cynicism in Cervantes’ ‘coloquio de los perros’ (With Tentative Remarks on the Discourse and Method of Animal Studies)”. Humanities 6.2.28. Special Issue Animal Narratology (June: 2017): 1–39. http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0787/6/2/28/pdf.
“Variants of hypólepsis: Rhetorical, Anthropistic, Dramatic (With Remarks on Terrence, Machiavelli, Shakespeare)”. Poetics and Politics. Net Structures and Agencies in Early Modern Drama. Eds. Joachim Küpper, et al. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2018. https://www.degruyter.com/view/product/486170. Print.
In 2016 DS Mayfield organized the international conference "Rethoric and Drama".
This project deals with neoclassical tragedy as a performative genre characteristic for Early Modern European court theater, inscribed into the overall system of courtly ritual. The starting point is the oeuvre of Aleksandr Sumarokov (1717–1777), the first Russian neoclassical dramatist and the founder of Russian-language court theater, research addresses general questions of social and cultural functioning of court theater, one of the crucial institutions of the pan-European absolutist “culture of power”. The research results were published under the title: Terror and Pity: Aleksandr Sumarokov and the Theater of Power in Elizabethan Russia, Boston. Academic Studies Press, 2016.
Ospovat, K. (2016) Terror and Pity: Aleksandr Sumarokov and the Theater of Power in Elizabethan Russia, Boston. Academic Studies Press.
Kiril Ospovat co-organized the DramaNet conference Dramatic Experience in November 2013.
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'That he could nothing do but wish and beg': Moral Agency and Heteronomy in Shakespearean and Racinian Tragedy
While the problem of moral agency is literally biblical (Romans 7:15), it acquired particular relevance in the wake of the Reformation and the pluralisation of Christian faiths. The proposed dissertation investigates the contiguous motifs of agency and heteronomy in selected tragedies by Shakespeare and Racine. Despite the protagonists' recurring claims that they are victimised by providence or fate, they often fail to actualise their potential for (semi-)autonomous decisions. The project draws upon recent philosophical research to gain a theoretical model of personhood that both highlights the character's tragic deficiencies and facilitates the comparison. By way of careful interpretation of the plays and their contexts, I will go on to analyse the intersection of religious, anthropological and literary discourses as well as the demand-driven withdrawal of such material from the cultural net.
In 2015, J. Mosch was part of the organizing committee of the DramaNet conference on Poetics and Politics.
The 'Patient Griselda' Myth in Early Modern European Drama
The purpose of my dissertation project is to explore the uses in early modern drama of the Patient Griselda myth as floating cultural material from which European playwrights drew their inspiration. I devote particular attention to the English play, Patient and Meek Grissil (1603), by Thomas Dekker, Henry Chettle and William Haughton, and the Spanish comedy by Félix Lope de Vega Carpio, El ejemplo de casadas o prueba de la paciencia (1615). A major aspect of this project considers the ways in which these works make use of the monstrous and the grotesque in language (through metaphors, comparisons, analogies, etc.), in the plot and in the configuration of characters in order to address issues such as marriage, tyranny and, most of all, to question Griselda’s status as ideal wife.
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In the 16th and 17th centuries, a highly influential revival of ancient Scepticism was embedded in a time of radical changes in hitherto valid certainties. The research project comparatively investigates how Scepticism and related epistemological questions or strategies of argumentation have been incorporated into contemporary Spanish, English and French drama.
Leonie Pawlita was co-organiser of the first DramaNet conference Theatre Cultures in November 2012.