Date: November 28-29, 2013
Venue: Freie Universität Berlin, Seminarzentrum, Lecture Room L116
Concept and organisation: Joachim Küpper, Tatiana Korneeva, Kirill Ospovat, Katja Gvozdeva
The conference proceedings volume is available via open access at Brill publishers online.
From Aristotle to New Historicism, drama has been recognized as a medium tailored to produce and manipulate collective emotions, whether anthropologically constant or socially and historically variable. This conference is designed to investigate different approaches and venues of research open to students of early modern drama, departing from this understanding of drama. Bringing together experts on Western European cultures, as well as scholars working on Russia, East Asia and Northern Africa, we intend to explore the interaction between “universal”, internationally transferable theatrical poetics, textual genres and performative techniques, and specific audiences, diverging socially, geographically and chronologically. Reaching beyond theater studies per se, this perspective will allow us to address the complex structure of various early modern “public spheres”, from the court society to various forms of lower class sociability, as well as the issue of public emotionality and its place in cultural history: the differences and similarities in form and function between theater and ritual, the importance of theatrical practices for pre-modern social and political order, the tensions between public and private, social and aesthetic sensibilities.
It is one of the premises of the DramaNet project that the internationally spread early modern European theater constituted the first mass medium in human history. This assumption implies that aesthetic effects and techniques of fiction were aligned with, if not steered by, a social logic of mass consumption that consistently allowed theaters to attract heterogeneous audiences usually divided by geographical and social distance. According to this perspective, drama constitutes a rich set of techniques specifically elaborated to retain and manipulate the emotional community it creates, along with a certain symbolic logic. In his Poetics, which has since its rediscovery in the Renaissance constituted the basis for European dramatic theory, Aristotle argued that tragedy aroused “passions” in order to “purge” or “purify” them, thus disciplining individual emotionality according to a collectively accepted social ideal. The endless variety of interpretations that this authoritative yet enigmatic doctrine produced in early modern times is symptomatic of the complexity of issues that concern the performative practices known to us as “theater” and “drama”.
These general issues have to be addressed with an eye for the diversity and ambivalence of theatrical practices characteristic of early modern theater, its authors, actors and audiences. Between humanist revivals of Graeco-Roman dramatic heritage and local customary drama, between scripted commedia erudita and the improvisational commedia dell’arte, secluded court stages and multilingual performances of itinerant companies accessible to large and diverse audiences, between amateurs and professionals, ritualized festivities and commercial enterprises, the medium of theater drew upon a wide range of genres and techniques of enticement, which constantly defied taxonomies and delimitations imposed on them by the current social and aesthetic normative protocols. In theory, the hierarchy of theatrical genres and styles was realigned with the social hierarchies and the outlines of current political order, which had to be reaffirmed and re-enhanced through its means. In practice, theater created a largely autonomous space of collective sensibility, a “public sphere” in its own right, where the emotional, social and political experience of the audience was shaped and explored in ways hardly controlled by any authority, theatrical or political.
Possible topics and questions include but are not restricted to the following:
Theater employs medium-specific modes of interaction with its audiences, between dramatic authorship, staging practices and public demands and reactions. What was specific about the functioning of these interactions in early modern times? How was theatrical effect understood in contemporary theoretical discourses, and how did they relate to dramatic practice? How were emotional and social effects of performance different from, or similar to, those of books and paintings?
How did theatrical spaces consolidate and reshape different “public spheres” either in accordance with or in contradiction to established social hierarchies? How did these social developments affect the techniques of drama and performance?
How did theater manipulate the audience and its emotions in order to convey certain values or visions, social, moral or aesthetic? How did on-stage role-playing affect the public view of social roles?
How did drama and performance relate to the political theatrics of power?
What strategies of enticement were employed in early modern theater? How did stage scenery and machinery manipulate the spectators’ perceptions?
How did theatrical techniques interact with other media during synthetic social performances, such as religious rituals, courtly fetes or social games?
In classical theory, both in Aristotle’s Poetics and Horace’s Ars poetica, the reaction and judgment of the audience was recognized as the ultimate measure for drama and its performances. How was the role of the theatrical audiences understood and theorized throughout the early modern age? How did it evolve in practice? How did the audience’s responses influence the production and circulation of theatrical texts?
|Thursday, 28 November 2013|
|9:30 – 10:00||Arrival and Registration|
|10:00 – 10:15||Introduction and welcome by Joachim Küpper (Freie Universität Berlin)|
Panel 110:15 – 12:45
|Theatre and the City|
|10:15 – 11:00||
Wendy Heller (Princeton University)ll favore degli dei: Myth, Spectacle, and Ovidian Dramaturgy in Seicento Opera
|11:00 – 11:45||
Tatiana Korneeva (Freie Universität Berlin/DramaNet)Theatrical Spells: Techniques of Enticement in Eighteenth-Century Italian Fairy Comedy
|11:45 – 12:00||Coffee break|
|12.00 – 12.45||
Nigel Smith (Princeton University)Theatre, Aesthetics and Political Crisis in the Seventeenth Century: Amsterdam in Context
|12.45 – 14.15||Lunch break|
Panel 214:15 – 16:30
|14:15 – 15:00||
Peter W. Marx (Universität Köln)How to create a Scene? Early Modern Drama and Theatre between Literary Practice, Cultural Performances and the Emerging Theatrical Arts
|15:00 – 15:45||
Hans Rudolf Velten (Universität Siegen)Devils on and off Stage: Shifting Effects of Fear and Laughter in Late Medieval German Religious Theatre
|15:45 – 16:30||
Philip Sadgrove (University of Manchester)Audience/Dramatist Interaction on the Early Arabic Stage
|16:30 – 16:45||Coffee break|
Panel 316:45 – 19:00
|Scenarios of Power|
|16:45 – 17:30||
Claude Haas (Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung Berlin)The Public of the Sovereign and the Private Sphere of Mourning: Pierre Corneille’s Horace (1640)
|17:30 – 18:15||
Kirill Ospovat (Freie Universität Berlin/DramaNet)Terror and Pity: Hamlet and the Poetics of Autocracy in Eighteenth-Century Russia
|18:15 – 19:00||
Heinrich Kirschbaum (Humboldt Universität Berlin)Self-Burial and the Mystery of Rising: Perlocutionary Eschatology in Polish Romantic Drama
|Friday, 29 November 2013|
Panel 410:00 – 12:30
|Theatre and the Academies|
|10:00 – 10:45||
Katja Gvozdeva (Freie Universität Berlin/DramaNet)Why Do Men Go Blind in the Theatre? Gendering the Audience in Italian Renaissance Comedies
|10:45 – 11:30||
Déborah Blocker (University of California, Berkeley)From Sacred Music to Courtly Pleasures: Defining the Melodramatic Experience in Jacopo Peri’s and Ottavio Rinuccini’s Euridice (1600)
|11:30 – 11.45||Coffee break|
|11:45 – 12:30||
Sven Thorsten Kilian (Freie Universität Berlin/DramaNet)Opening Spaces for the Reading Audience: Fernando de Roja’s Celestina (1499/1502) and Niccolò Machiavelli’s Mandragola (1519)
|12:30 – 14:00||Lunch break|
Panel 514:00 – 15:30
|Noh and its Echoes|
|14:00 – 14:45||
Stanca Scholz-Cionca (Universität Trier)Nôh Theatre Within Walls and Beyond in Early Modern Japan (1603-1868)
|14:45 – 15.30||
Carrie J. Preston (Boston University)Noh Echoes, No Conductor: Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River and the Measures of Intercultural Performance
|15:30 – 15.45||Coffee break|
Panel 615:45 – 18:15
|Theatre and Social Knowledge|
|15:45 – 16:30||
Toni Bernhart (Freie Universität Berlin/DramaNet)Imaging the Audience in the Eighteenth-Century Austrian Popular Drama
|16:30 – 17:15||
Alexei Evstratov (University of Oxford)Molière and Performing the Bourgeois: Theatrical Experience and Social Knowledge in the Eighteenth Century
|17:15 – 17:30||Coffee break|
|17:30 – 18:15||
Logan James Connors (Bucknell University)From Contagion to Cognition: Aestheticizing the Theatrical Event in Eighteenth-Century France
|18:15 – 19:00||
Final Discussionchaired by Christopher Balme (Universität München)
Toni Bernhart (Freie Universität Berlin)
Imaging the Audience in the Eighteenth-Century Austrian Popular Drama
The Austrian, especially the Tyrolean popular drama, acts as a mass medium in an illiterate and rural environment. Nonetheless, the dramatic texts are strongly influenced by early modern European literatures. Popular plays are almost exclusively available in the form of manuscripts. Regarding its audience, sources and data are quite difficult to find. Different layers overlap, such as local costumes and traditions, demographic and economic conditions, and dramatic experiences, which were written about by chance. The dramatic texts bear appeals to the audience and explanations of the performative practice, as well as the adaptation of the large European literary framework to local restrictions. The concepts of real, imagined and implied audience enable a reconstruction of the triangle of author, actor, and audience, who in popular drama tend to be identical.
Toni Bernhart studied German literature, theatre history, and geography at the University of Vienna, and completed his dissertation on colour semantics in Hans Henny Jahnn at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in 2001. He was the coordinator of the Graduate School for the Arts and Sciences at the Berlin University of the Arts, before he joined DramaNet in 2013. He is also a playwright. His main research interests are German popular drama and quantitative methods in interpretation theory. He edited the moral plays Johannes Ulrich von Fedlerspiel: Hirlanda (1999), and Johann Herbst: Das Laaser Spiel vom Eigenen Gericht (2010). Further publications include works on Goethe, Alexander von Humboldt, Arthur Schnitzler, and Christoph Schlingensief.
Déborah Blocker (University of California, Berkeley)
From Sacred Music to Courtly Pleasures: Defining the Melodramatic Experience in Jacopo Peri’s and Ottavio Rinuccini’s Euridice (1600)
This paper reads the Euridice produced for the wedding in absentia of Maria de Medici and Henri IV of France (1600) as an allegorical discourse on the enjoyment to be procured by a new type of courtly dramatic experience – that of the theatrical action set to music, or recitativo. The argument is based not only on an analysis of Euridice’s happy ending, but also on a reading of the ways in which the notion of diletto is mobilized and deployed in the work. This reading also ties Euridice to the tradition of sacred music, as well as to a variety of discourses on pleasure, which, from Lorenzo Valla and Marsilio Ficino to Agostino Nifo and Torquato Tasso, played an important role in the development of new understandings of the types of pleasures artistic productions can procure. The Alterati of Florence, an academy in which both Ottavio Rinuccini and Jacopo Peri were active at the turn of the 16th and the 17th centuries, were well versed in these hedonistic traditions and it is in large part among them that Rinuccini and Peri were introduced to such ideas. The paper ultimately ties Rinuccini’s and Peri’s Euridice to the Alterati’s reflexions on the nature and uses of art, suggesting that their (hitherto overlooked) emphasis on the centrality of pleasure in the melodramatic experience was actually quite influential, not only in the development of Italian aulic divertimenti but also in the birth of French court opera.
Déborah Blocker specializes in the social and political history of literary practices in early modern France and Italy, with a particular interest in theater, learned societies (academies) and the development of aesthetics. Her current research relies heavily on the history of the book, as well as on manuscript studies. Her first full-length study, Instituer un “art”: politiques du théâtre dans le premier XVIIe siècle français (Paris: Champion, 2009), studied the social and political processes through which early modern French theater was instituted into an art (1630-1660). This project led her to develop a larger curiosity for the social and political constitution and circulation of discourses on poetry and the arts in early modern Europe (1500-1800). She is currently researching the social and political circumstances in which new conceptions of art emerged in Renaissance Florence, through an archival study of the Accademia degli Alterati (circa 1570-1620). In 2010-2011, Déborah Blocker was the Florence J. Gould Fellow at the Villa I Tatti, Harvard University’s Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, located in Florence, Italy.
On the topic of the Accademia degli Alterati, Déborah Blocker has published the following articles: “Dire l’‘art’ à Florence sous Cosme I de Médicis: une Poétique d’Aristote au service du Prince,” AISTHE, 2 (2008): 56-101; “Le lettré, ses pistole et l’académie: comment faire témoigner les lettres de Filippo Sassetti, accademico Alterato (Florence et Pise, 1570-1578)?,” Littératures classiques, 71 (2010): 31-66; “S’affirmer par le secret: anonymat collectif, institutionnalisation et contre-culture au sein de l’académie des Alterati (Florence, 1569 – ca. 1625),” Littératures classiques, 80 (2013): 167-190.
Logan James Connors (Bucknell University)
From Contagion to Cognition: aestheticizing the Theatrical Event in Eighteenth-Century France
This presentation will highlight an intersection of dramatic, religious, and scientific writing in France during the late seventeenth century and early eighteenth century by tracing the origins of a few spectator-focused dramatic theories in the works of Pierre Nicole, J.-B. Bossuet, Jean-Baptiste Dubos, Houdar de la Motte, and Denis Diderot.
By including “anti-theatrical” texts alongside “theatrical” texts, I hope to prove that one of the possible sources of modern theatrical aesthetics might be found in some of the most vehemently antagonistic writings about the stage. My goal is thus to show the importance of an “ontological switch” that occurred during the first half of the eighteenth century, when a new definition of “theater” emerged in dramatic theories. As I hope to show, proponents of the stage, such as the abbé Dubos and Houdar de la Motte, borrowed “energy” and “contagion” metaphors from anti-theatrical writers in order to show the power of performance. But rather than condemning theater as an institution or as an experience, these pro-dramatic writers downplayed the physical aspects of the theatrical experience, instead underscoring the benefits of a cognitive, mindfulprocess at play during performance. This new “cognition of the stage” forever changed both theory and practice by ushering in new forms of drama (comédie larmoyante, drame, tragédie nationale) as well as innovative, spectator-focused modes of criticism.
Logan James Connors is a specialist of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French theatre and literary criticism; he is also interested in current trends in literary pedagogy. He is the author of Dramatic battles in eighteenth-century France: philosophes, anti-philosophes and the polemical theatre (Oxford, 2012) and his articles have appeared in French Forum, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, The French Review and in other venues both in North America and Europe. He is currently in the process of completing a critical edition of Pierre De Belloy’s tragedy, Le Siège de Calais, and he is in the beginning stages of a book-length project about the function of the emotions in the dramatic theories of early modern France. He is Assistant Professor of French & Francophone Studies at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
Alexei Evstratov (University of Oxford)
Molière and Performing the Bourgeois: Theatrical Experience and Social Knowledge in the Eighteenth Century
The starting point of my paper is a study of Molière’s George Dandin (1668) published by Roger Chartier under the title ‘George Dandin, ou le social en representation’ (1994) and in English translation as ‘From Court Festivity to City Spectators’. In his analysis, Chartier stresses the difference between the meanings of the play produced in the course of its performances at court and in town. According to this idea, ‘social knowledge’ shared by the author and the various audiences informed the perceptions of the comedy.
In my case study of another Molière comédie-ballet, Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (1671), I will question the opposition Chartier makes between the court and the town. Drawing upon the eighteenth-century readings of the comedy and exploring the examples of social representations, I will investigate how individual theatrical experience could inform social knowledge and vice versa. My aim will be not to negate the existence of interpretative communities, but to give closer attention to the way they could be formed through individual and group interactions with onstage performance and social performance(s).
Alexei Evstratov is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Faculty of Medieval & Modern Languages at the University of Oxford. He is part of the project on “The Creation of a Europeanized Elite in Russia. Public Role and Subjective Self” and is currently investigating the role of theatre in the Russian nobility’s everyday life and the perceptions of foreigners among Russian elites. Additionally, Dr Evstratov is working on a monograph (in French) on The Francophone theatre and the invention of society in St. Petersburg (1743-1801).
His recent publications include: Alexei Evstratov, Francine-Dominique Liechtenhan, Evgenii Rytchalovskii (eds.), Rossiia v XVIII stoletii, vyp. IV (Moscow, 2013); “Drama Translation in Eighteenth-Century Russia: Masters and Servants on the Court Stage in the 1760s,” in Art as Accommodation: Literary Translation in Russia. Ed. L. Burnett and E. Lygo (Oxford, 2013), pp. 31-54; (co-authored with Pierre Frantz), “Pierre le Grand au théâtre, entre tragédie encomiastique et comédie bourgeoise,” Lotmanovskie chtenia XVIII. Proceedings (Moscow, forthcoming in autumn 2013).
Katja Gvozdeva (Freie Universität Berlin)
Why Do Men Go Blind in the Theatre? Gendering the Audience in Italian Renaissance Comedies
The paper examines the carnivalesque performances of nuova commedia in Siena and Florence as a space of mediation between the private circles of litterati and the public sphere. The prologues to the comedies are pronounced on behalf of a collective subject: compagnia di giovani onorati, who are frequently both authors of the play and actors. Addressing the mixed upper class audience, they make not only a clear difference, but create an opposition between male and female audience members: while the gentilissime donne are persistently invited to enjoy the play offered to them by young men, the gentiluomini are said to be able to see it only if they go blind. I intend to disentangle this playful paradox of dramatic experience by exploring the gendered rhetorical strategies of the prologues as a manifestation of the masculine discourse of the accademia. Emerging in the first third of the 16th century as all male youth societies, the academies intimately associate their collective identity and their cultural mission with the construction of manhood. They are addressing men as natural holders of knowledge shared through reading, and women as erotically connoted objects and recipients of knowledge disseminated through performance. My goal is to show how the relationship between the intellectual power of men and the erotic power of women is played out in the liminoid space of the comedy prologue in order to acquire, by means of the gendered interaction with the audience, symbolical capital necessary to the survival of the contested institution of the academy.
Katja Gvozdeva is a research fellow in the DramaNet project at Freie Universität Berlin. She specializes in late medieval, early modern and 20th century French literature, as well as Italian Renaissance literature. Her main research interests are carnivalesque culture, the history of literary societies, the relationship between ritual, theatre and literary text, and gender studies. Her current research is on the Italian Renaissance Academies and their theatre. Among her recent and forthcoming publications are: Médialité de la procession. Performance du mouvement rituel en textes et en images à l’époque pré-moderne / Medialität der Prozession. Performanz ritueller Bewegung in Texten und Bildern der Vormoderne (co-edited with H.R. Velten. Heidelberg: Winter Universitätsverlag 2011 ; Scham und Schamlosigkeit. Grenzverletzungen in Literatur und Kultur der Vormoderne (co-ed. with H- R.Velten. Berlin/New York: De Gruyter 2011; Savoirs ludiques. Pratiques de divertissement et émergence d’institutions, doctrines et disciplines dans l’Europe moderne (co-ed. with A. Stroev), Paris Champion 2014.
Claude Haas (Center for Literary and Cultural Research Berlin)
The Public of the Sovereign and the Private Sphere of Mourning: Pierre Corneille’s Horace (1640)
Corneille’s early plays have often been read as non- or un-tragic tragedies. This becomes particularly evident in their attempt to systematically rule out any potential ambivalence regarding their heroes’ deaths. By either letting them survive or clearly demonstrating the reasons that lead to their destruction, Corneille’s plays serve to consolidate the modern absolutist state. But while it is true that the official poetics and dramaturgy of the plays thus confirm the law of the sovereign, they are generally far more hybrid on a performative level. This applies above all to a work such as Horace whose six casualties are rendered completely meaningful for the sovereign and sanctioned by a public prohibition of mourning. The drama’s unity of place in particular, however,shows that the strict separation of private and public spheres – officially affirmed – cannot be maintained in the play. For, instead of being set in the public sphere, the entire action unfolds in the confines of a private home, thereby letting its audience see the exact opposite of what the ‘sovereign’ dramaturgy claims.
Claude Haas is working as a senior researcher (“wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter”) at the Center for Literary and Cultural Research Berlin (project: “Mourning Play (Trauerspiel) and Tragedy”). He is he author of Arbeit am Abscheu. Zu Thomas Bernhards Prosa (Munich, 2007) and the co-editor of Der Einsatz des Dramas. Dramenanfänge, Wissenschaftspoetik und Gattungspolitik (Freiburg, 2012). He is currently working on the representation of heroism and sovereignty in the German and French classical drama.
Among his publications: “‘Nur wer Euch ähnlich ist, versteht und fühlt’. Überlegungen zur Repräsentation von Heroismus und Souveränität,” Es trübt mein Auge sich in Glück und Licht. Über den Blick in der Literatur, Ed. Kenneth S. Calhoo et al., Berlin, 2010, 49-69; “Heute ein König? Zur Dramenzeit des Souveräns,” Der Einsatz des Dramas. Dramenanfänge, Wissenschaftspoetik und Gattungspolitik, Ed. Claude Haas and Andrea Polaschegg, Freiburg, 2012, 253-276;“‘Jetzt Retter hilf dir selbst – du rettest alle!’ Zur Tragödienpolitik der Lebensrettung in Schillers Wilhelm Tell,” Rettung und Erlösung. Religiöses und politisches Heil in der Moderne, Ed. Johannes F. Lehmann and Hubert Thüring, München (forthcoming); Benjamins Trauerspiel. Theorie – Lektüren – Nachleben, co-edited with Daniel Weidner, Kadmos: Berlin (forthcoming).
Wendy Heller (Princeton University)
Il favore degli dei: Myth, Spectacle, and Ovidian Dramaturgy in Seicento Opera
By the last quarter of the seventeenth century, public opera had become an established feature of Venetian life and an essential part of the way in which the Republic entertained its nobles and citizens and presented itself to the world. Marshalling a well-codified set of dramatic and musical conventions and not yet subjected to the various bouts of reform that would shape opera criticism for centuries, the genre also seemingly bore little resemblance to the sung drama imagined in the rarefied atmosphere of the Florentine academies some 100 years previously. But while scholars have long acknowledged the failure of these works to satisfy these admittedly anachronistic sets of aesthetic criteria, they have yet to explain the theatrical poetics and performative strategies of this ostensibly untamed body of works.
My paper considers the aesthetics of Venetian opera through a study of an unusual transplant: Il favore degli dei, a “drama fantastico musicale”, reportedly lasting a full eight hours, produced in Parma at the Teatro Farnese for the wedding of Prince Odoardo Farnese. Although the music by Bernardo Sabadini does not survive, the libretto by Aurelio Aureli – one of Venice’s most experienced librettists – with its numerous engravings, provides a vivid sense of a production whose opulence was excessive, even by Baroque standards. With more than passing reference to a number of earlier operas, Aureli’s libretto melds together a host of mythic fragments in an irreverent, sensual, Ovidian romp that could not have been more distant either from the “bon gusto” espoused by the Arcadians or the aesthetic concerns of the creators of the genre. Considering this as well as earlier Venetian operas by Aureli and his colleagues, my paper explores the use of an “Ovidian drammaturgy” in seicento opera and its implications for our understanding of opera’s ambivalent relationship with humanism and the legacy of the ancients.
Wendy Heller is Professor of Music and Director of the Program in Italian Studies at Princeton University, Wendy Heller specializes in the study of 17th- and 18th-century opera from interdisciplinary perspectives, with emphasis on gender and sexuality, art history, and the classical tradition. A recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, Wendy Heller has been a Mellon Fellow at the Society of Fellows of Columbia University, a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and an appointee at the Villa I Tatti Harvard University Center for Renaissance Studies. Winner of the Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship (ACLS), she was also the Sylvan C. and Pamela Coleman Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her book Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women’s Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice was winner of the annual book prize from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and finalist for the Otto Kinkeldey Prize from the American Musicological Society. She is also the author of Music in the Baroque and Anthology of Music in the Baroque (W.W. Norton, 2013), released this month. Her current projects include Animating Ovid: Opera and the Metamorphoses of Antiquity in Early Modern Italy, critical editions of operas by Handel and Cavalli, and an edited collection of essays entitled Performing Homer: The Voyage of Ulysses from Epic to Opera.
Sven Thorsten Kilian (Freie Universität Berlin)
Opening Spaces for the Reading Audience: Fernando de Roja’s Celestina (1499/1502) and Niccolò Machiavelli’s Mandragola (1519)
The paper focuses on medium-specific modes of interaction between dramatic texts and their audience, using the examples of Fernando de Rojas’s Celestina (1499/1502) and Niccolò Machiavelli’s La mandragola (1519). Both texts articulate explicitly their otherness with regard to (printed) texts of the literary and non-literary tradition, i.e. texts meant for individual, more or less intensive reading.
The so-called Celestina seems to be made up of not only a multitude of references to prominent Latin, Italian and Spanish sources centered on the theme of buen resp. locoamor, but furthermore it is said to be a parody of scholarly disputes that mocks the contentions between different orientations of contemporary academia. If this is true, its immense success in early modern Europe must be linked to other features of the text, namely its fictional character. The author of the Celestina invents an original dramatic form, conferring an ‚added value‘ to the intertextual construct and thereby opening the public sphere of Salamanca University scholars to a much broader, but still well-read audience.
Similarly, Machiavelli’s Mandragola, the first of his two most renowned plays, seems at first sight to be exclusively rooted in contemporary Florence’s upper class: the drama’s setting coincides in time and space with its staging. Yet at the same time and for the same reason, it epitomizes the modernity (exceeding the practices of commedia erudita) and the universality (adaptability to all other audiences) of Italian early modern comedies. The play’s text explicitly refers to the specificity of its power to entice and deceive (ingannare) the audience as distinct from the effects of reading. A media competition that is still virulent today is outlined here. And whereas the didactic function of de Roja’s Celestina remains ambivalent and fragile exactly because it is hard to decide to which public sphere it should be assigned, the Mandragola is an example of conscious manipulation of different and overlapping public and private spheres.
The theoretical perspective that the paper proposes to adopt departs from the assumption that, generally speaking, at the beginning of the 16th century, diverging concepts of text as such and of the function of texts in the public and private spheres relate to the main philosophical, political and theological questions of the epoch, e.g. the contingency of textual tradition, the status of scripture and faith, the trade-off between morality and politics. The paper shows that these conceptual issues, closely linked to the so-called ‚media revolution’ of the printing press, are at stake in places where specific theatrical poetics begin to develop.
Sven Thorsten Kilian is a postdoctoral fellow at Freie Universität Berlin and a member of the DramaNet project. He studied French and comparative literature at Freie Universität Berlin and at Université de Paris 8. After his studies, he was an Assistant Professor at Potsdam University in the Romance Languages and Literatures Department, and a temporary lecturer for French studies at the Freie Universität. His main research interests are narratives, drama and philosophy of the early modern period, aesthetic theories and 20th century narratives. He is currently working on a project entitled Concepts of Text and Scripture in Early Modern Drama. He is the author of Die Szene des Erzählens. Ereignishaftes Sprechen in “Bagatelles pour un massacre”, “Guignol’s band” und “Féerie pour une autre fois” von Louis-Ferdinand Céline (Munich, 2012) and the editor of Stadtdispositive der französischen Literatur (Frankfurt/Main, 2013). His recent publications include: “Alte neue Wut: Affektbearbeitungsstrategien in Eros e Priapo und Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana von Carlo Emilio Gadda,” Wut – zerstörerische Kraft und kreatives Potential.Ed. Lydia Bauer and Kristin Reinke (Berlin, 2012), “Montaigne in der Stadt. Imagination zwischen otium und migratio in “De la vanité”,” Stadtdispositive der französischen Literatur. Ed. Lydia Bauer and Kristin Reinke (Frankfurt, 2013) and “Pasolini’s Aesthetics of Will,” Arabeschi. Rivista internazionale di studi su letteratura e visualità, 1 (2013) (http://www.arabeschi.it/pasolini-aesthetics-of-will).
Heinrich Kirschbaum (Humboldt Universität Berlin)
Self-Burial and the Mystery of Rising: Perlocutionary Eschatology in Polish Romantic Drama
After the final partition of Poland in 1794, which abolished Polish statehood, literature and drama in particular emerged as the ultimate substitute for political reflection and political action. This resulted in a poetics of seditious circumlocution, performativity and perlocutionarity developed most prominently by Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855). His romantic drama Dziady celebrates a pagan festival of ancestral worship, a ritual of memory and resurrection which provides a performative blueprint for national revival. In his non-theatrical dramatic poem, Mickiewicz conceals a perlocutionary and performative potential which is heightened, rather than dissipated, in a cathartic culmination that transforms aesthetic impression into social energy and a demand for action. Mickiewicz’s writing provided the poetic idiom for the Polish Uprising of 1830, which translated the literary mystique of crucifixion and resurrection into a recurrent historical pattern of revolt and defeat, while Dziady emerged as a scenario of national history staged and lived by contemporaries as a ritual eschatological drama.
Heinrich Kirschbaum is Assistant Professor (Juniorprofessor) for West Slavic literatures and cultures at Humboldt-Universität Berlin. His doctoral thesis (2007; published as “Valgally beloe vino…” Nemeckaja tema v tvorčestve O. Mandel’štama, Moscow, 2010) discusses German topics in the oeuvre of Osip Mandelshtam. His further publications include articles on Russian, Polish and Belarus poetry, as well as on the history of inter-Slavic and Slavic-German literary and cultural relations. His current project is entitled “Postcolonialism and Intertextuality. Polish-Russian (Anti)imperial Writing in the Early Nineteenth Century”.
Tatiana Korneeva (Freie Universität Berlin)
Theatrical Spells: Techniques of Enticement in Eighteenth-Century Italian Fairy Comedy
The progressive detachment of theatrical practices from the framework constituted by courts, aristocratic salons and academies in the course of the eighteenth century, as well as the general popularity of the theatre and its openness to a diverse public, brought about the emergence of increasingly influential theatre spectators, who exercised pressure on playwrights and actors, determined the success or failure of a play and generally asserted themselves as paramount in dramatic criticism.
Both in Venice and in Paris, where the debates on theatre reform constituted not only one the most significant aspects of theatrical life, but of eighteenth-century culture in general, theatre-goers became a force to contend with, but in turn they were also the object of efforts to persuade and influence them in the dramatic battles between the playwrights, as the latter sought to promote their respective ideologies and theatrical theories.
Taking as a case study Carlo Goldoni’s fairy comedy Il Genio buono e il genio cattivo (1767), written for both Italian and French audiences, this paper investigates the dramatic innovations, stage devices and techniques of enticement that Goldoni developed in order to attract and manipulate every conceivable type of public in the process of constructing a new relationship between spectators and the performance. In addition, the paper seeks to determine whether these new devices and techniques have fully entered into the circulation of dramatic theories and practices across the boundaries of national cultures.
Tatiana Korneeva is a postdoctoral fellow at Freie Universität Berlin and a member of the DramaNet project. She studied classical philology and comparative literature at Moscow’s Lomonosov State University, the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and the University of Lausanne. Her research interests include Renaissance and eighteenth-century theatre. She is the author of ‘Alter et ipse’: identità e duplicità nel sistema dei personaggi della Tebaide di Stazio (Pisa, 2011). Her articles have appeared in Modern Language Notes, German Life and Letters, Marvels and Tales, Studi classici e orientali, and Maia. She is currently investigating the illusionary potential of the performing arts and various manifestations of magic, marvellous, and fairy-tale elements in dramatic works, ranging from the Renaissance to the Victorian pantomime.
Peter W. Marx (Universität Köln)
How to create a Scene? Early Modern Drama and Theatre between Literary Practice, Cultural Performances and the Emerging Theatrical Arts
Kirill Ospovat (Freie Universität Berlin)
Terror and Pity: Hamlet and the Poetics of Autocracy in Eighteenth-Century Russia
The talk illuminates Aleksandr Sumarokov’s Hamlet (1748), a loose adaptation of Shakespeare and Russia’s second neoclassical tragedy, as a case of an emerging tragic poetics tailored to negotiate the tensions inherent in Russian autocracy, the contradictions between the notion of a sacred monarchy and constant palace revolutions, between the utopia of benevolent rule and customary oppression. Reenacting the coup d’état of 1741, which brought to the throne Empress Elizabeth, the play explores and masters the performative effects of political action, the symbolic “scenario of power” (Richard Wortman) employed by the monarchy and rooted in a precarious quasi-theatrical dynamic of royal gesture and public reaction.
Kirill Ospovat is a postdoctoral fellow of the DramaNet project. Since defending his doctoral thesis in 2005 at the Russian State University of the Humanities (Moscow), he has written on eighteenth-century Russian literary and cultural history, as well as on nineteenth-century poetry and Russian formalism. His academic interests primarily concern the functioning of literary aesthetics and intellectual disciplines in early modern structures of power. His current project, Terror and Pity: Court Drama and the Poetics of Power in Elizabethan Russia, illuminates the beginnings of Russian literary drama and theater as an institution of power that has to be interpreted in a pan-European comparative and interdisciplinary perspective.
Carrie J. Preston (Boston University)
Noh Echoes, No Conductor: Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River and the Measures of Intercultural Performance
International celebrations of the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten on November 22, 1913 proclaim that he made modern British Opera into world performance. The press coverage emphasizes that his music was innovative rather than nostalgic and backward. At a crucial point in his career, Britten looked back to ancient Japanese noh drama and the medieval liturgical theater of England to imagine new performance forms and subjectivities. His seemingly retrograde church parable Curlew River (1964) appropriated the noh play Sumidagawa for an ambivalent and anachronistic drag sermon featuring Britten’s partner, Peter Pears, as a mother in search of her dead son. The miraculous appearance of the boy’s ghost does not restore the mother’s happiness or redeem her suffering as exemplary for the community. Rather, the scene becomes a lesson on Christian submission and faith that presents the individualistic, masculinist subject as a specter of modernity. Even the authority of the western conductor is abandoned, following the noh example. Curlew River sits uneasily among modernist performance experiments because of its Christian message and nostalgia for ancient theaters, yet both contribute to its innovations in form and ability to imagine alternative subjectivities.
Carrie J. Preston is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Graduate Studies in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Boston University. Her book, Modernism’s Mythic Pose: Gender, Genre, Solo Performance (Oxford, 2011), won the De la Torre Bueno Prize in dance studies. Her current research on the circulation of ancient Japanese noh theater in modernism has been supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities, and a Peter Paul Career Development Professorship. Among her essays on modernist performance are “Taking Direction from Beckett: Noh/No, Footfalls/Pas,” Back to the Beckett Text. Ed. Tomasz Wiśniewski (Gdansk, 2012): 155-178; “Posing Modernism: Delsartism in Modern Dance and Silent Film,” Theatre Journal, 61.2 (2009): 213-233; and “The Motor in the Soul: Isadora Duncan and Modernist Performance,” Modernism/modernity, 12:2 (2005): 273-289.
Philip Sadgrove (Manchester University)
Audience/Dramatist Interaction on the Early Arabic Stage
With the creation of Arabic theatre in the 1840s dramatists responded to their perception of Arabic taste. Poetry, music, song and comedy became integral elements in the new genre. In the first half century musicals/operettas dominated. Without the participation of singers like ‘Abduh al-Hamuli, Salama Hijazi, Malika Surur, etc. within the plays or accompanying them, theatre would not have been so successful in attracting the crowds. Tunes from popular local and European origins fill the texts. Elements from the Arab traditions of improvisatory drama, shadow theatre (karagoz), sword dancing, etc. were incorporated, and on occasions, such travelling players were recruited to the stage. One-act comedies supported most professional performances. Egyptian and Algerian dramatists exploited the more accessible colloquial language to broaden the appeal, the literary language being incomprehensible to many. The Arabic literary heritage and Arab history produced the most successful plays, but early French and contemporary French drama were key sources. Interaction on the night between the stage and the audience led to the development of plots. Dramatists had to avoid upsetting public taste. Religious sensitivity, qualms about men performing female roles, etc., caused major problems. Theatre depended on the support and consent of the authorities; controversy was in the main avoided. The discussion of political and controversial social issues led more than once to the closure of the Arabic theatre in Egypt. Professional theatre only flourished in Egypt, where there was a strong tradition of European theatre.
Philip Sadgrove has served as a diplomat and later taught translation, interpreting and Arabic at the Heriot-Watt University and the Universities of Durham, Edinburgh, and Manchester, where he was in 2003-2006 the head of Middle Eastern Studies. Among other works, he has coedited the collection Jewish Contributions to Nineteenth-Century Arabic Theatre: Previously Unknown Plays from Algeria and Syria. A Study and Texts (1996) and published a monograph on The Egyptian Theatre in the Nineteenth Century (1996; 2007).
Stanca Scholz-Cionca (Universität Trier)
Nôh Theatre Within Walls and Beyond in Early Modern Japan (1603-1868)
Nôh drama and theatre, which emerged in the 14th century, was put to many uses during its long history: starting as a “beggars’ theatre”, it won the patronage of the samurai elites, flourished in symbiosis with courtly culture and was finally turned into a cloistered ceremonial art of the Third Shogunate (1603-1868). Under the strict control of the samurai class, it became a state-protected ‘classical’ form with fixed repertoire and rigid stage practices (in close intercourse with the martial arts), preserved as the exclusive cultural capital of the ruling class. However, despite its forced confinement within the palaces and villas of powerful lords, and despite the rare opportunities for commoners to attend performances, knowledge of the art was diffused in the public sphere, permeating the culture of lower social strata, especially in big cities.
This paper addresses the various ways in which Nôh was disseminated during the early modern (Edo) period: by print media (more than 300 editions of libretti from the Kanze Nôh school alone were on sale, to say nothing of booklets containing Nôh songs for practice); special performances for the commoners (machi-iri nô and also paid performances, kanjin); unauthorized street performances given by vagant Nôh actors (tsuji nô);lessons of Nôh chanting and dance given by professional actors for paying citizens or villagers eager to partake in the ‘forbidden’ art (one famous instance is the Kurokawa Nôh still performed by villagers up until today). Besides, Nôh drama was perceived as a treasure of ‘classical’ plots and motives, prompting many remakes in the commoners’ Kabuki theatre (a whole category of Kabuki plays, matsubamemono), which transported values and moral standards of courtly culture, thus preparing the ground for a modern ‘national’ culture.
The paper argues that the continuation of Nôh into the present day would have been impossible without the appropriation process throughout the Edo period.
Stanca Scholz-Cionca, Professor of Japanese Studies at the Universityof Trier (until 2013), has also taught in Munich, Berlin and Oslo. Fields of research: Japanese literature, comparative literature and theatre (especially nô, kyôgen and contemporary avant-garde). Among her publications:Aspekte des mittelalterlichen Synkretismus im Bild des Tenman Tenjin im Nô (Stuttgart, 1991); Entstehung und Morphologie des klassischen Kyôgen im 17. Jahrhundert: Vom mittelalterlichen Theater der Außenseiter zum Kammerspiel des Shogunats (Munich, 1997); Ed. with S. Leiter, Japanese Theatre and the International Stage (Leiden: Brill, 2001); Ed. with R. Borgen, Performing Culture in East Asia: China, Korea, Japan (Bern, 2004); Ed. with H.P. Bayerdörfer, Befremdendes Lachen. Komik auf der heutigen Bühne im japanisch-deutschen Vergleich (Munich, 2005); Ed. with C. Balme,Nô Theatre Transversal (Munich, 2008); Ed. with A. Regelsberger, Japanese Theatre Transcultural. German and Italian Intertwinings (Munich, 2011).
Nigel Smith (Princeton University)
Theatre, Aesthetics and Political Crisis in the Seventeenth Century: Amsterdam in Context
This paper is part of a broader project concerned with the relationship between the state, state formation and literary production in early modern Europe. The focus of this will primarily be on Amsterdam theater of the 17th-century, looking at some of the more notoriously violent examples (e.g., Jan Vos’s Titus en Arens), and in the context of ongoing political tensions in the period: the lingering afterlife of the Arminian controversy and the struggle for power between the stadholder and the States General, in a situation of notably contested sovereignty. My main examples will be Joachim Oudaen’s Haagse Broeder-moord, of Dolle Blydschap (‘Brother-murder at The Hague, or Insane Merriment’, 1673), a response to the 1672 mob-lynching of the de Witt brothers, symbols of republican ascendancy, and the surviving fifth act of an Oudaen play of 1655 concerned with the Spanish Erasmian and anti-Trinitarian Michael Servetus, burned at Geneva in 1553. Both plays were not performed but they are important witnesses to the role of drama in public affairs. I’ll be concerned with the way the Amsterdam theatermay be said to participate in political and religious events, its reputation as a subversive force and the attempts to reform it from the later 1670s onwards. I’ll put this in comparative context, in so far as time allows (since for most scholars literature in Dutch remains an unknown quantity) with theater in Paris, London and parts of the German-speaking world.
Nigel Smith is William and Annie S. Paton Foundation Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature at Princeton University. He has published mostly on early modern English literature, with interests including poetry; poetic theory; literature, politics and religion; heresy and heterodoxy; radical literature; the history of linguistic ideas. His major works are Andrew Marvell: The Chameleon (2010), Is Milton better than Shakespeare? (2008), the Longman Annotated English Poets edition of Andrew Marvell’s Poems (2003), Literature and Revolution in England, 1640-1660 (1994) and Perfection Proclaimed: Language and Literature in English Radical Religion 1640-1660 (1989). His new work, The State and Literary Production in Early Modern Europe, involves the comparison of English with literatures in other European vernaculars (especially Dutch, German, French and Spanish) in the context of political and scientific transformation between 1500 and 1800. He is also writing a study of the relationship between words and music.
Hans Rudolf Velten (Universität Siegen)
Devils on and off Stage: Shifting Effects of Fear and Laughter in Late Medieval German Religious Theatre
Devils are fundamental media of mass manipulation in German medieval religious plays. They interact with the audience on several levels: as the biblical antagonists of God they perform their power bodily over the human souls on stage, as laughing stocks they are an important means of satirical criticism and are responsible for arousing paschal joy, and as a sort of theater police they act off stage and drag perturbators into their hell (Alsfeld passion play). Considering these manifold functions, scholars debate devils’ involvement in religious plays and the theatrical strategies of their emotional effects on the audience. Still, it is not clear to what extent they are perceived as part of an embodied salvation event or as role players, e.g. when their costumes were (re)used in carnival rituals and shrovtide plays.
I would like to discuss these questions in light of ritual theory, but also in the framework of a more detailed analysis of audience response, with the help of performance records.
Hans Rudolf Velten is a scholar of medieval German and European literature and cultural theory. He completed his habilitation at Humboldt University in 2009 and at the moment is temporary Professor at the University of Siegen. His research interests are in anthropology, mediality and narratology of medieval and early modern literature. His publications include Das selbst geschriebene Leben. Eine Studie zur deutschen Autobiographie im 16. Jh. (1995), “Laughing at the Body: Approaches to a Performative Theory of Humor,” Journal of Literary Theory, 3.2 (2009): 353-373, and the co-edited volumes Germanistik als Kulturwissenschaft: Eine Einführung in neue Theoriekonzepte (2002), Lachgemeinschaften: Kulturelle Inszenierungen und soziale Wirkungen von Gelächter im Mittelalter und in der Frühen Neuzeit (2005), 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 (2011) and Scham und Schamlosigkeit. Grenzverletzungen in Literatur und Kultur der Vormoderne (2012). He is currently working on an introduction to German medieval drama: Theatergeschichte des Mittelalters. Eine Einführung (forthcoming Berlin/New York, 2014).
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