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Chetana Nagavajara


Interweaving Performance Cultures

Fellow 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17

Educated at Cambridge and Tübingen and now Professor Emeritus of German at Silpakorn University, Thailand, Chetana Nagavajara is a scholar of comparative literature with extensive experience in teaching, research and university administration. His scholarly works address such areas as Western, Thai and Comparative Literature as well as Interart Studies. Prof. Nagavajara is a frequent visitor to Germany, having been associated with the Institute for Comparative Literature of the Free University Berlin, the Centre for Cultural and Literary Research, Berlin, and the Department of Comparative Literature at Tübingen University. His current research includes a study on the renaissance of comparative literature in Germany during the immediate post-World War II period, and he has just published a volume of collected essays in German entitled Auf der Suche nach einer grenzüberschreitenden Wissenschaftskultur (In Search of a transnational Scholarly Culture). In recognition of his role as a cultural ambassador between East and West, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Tübingen University in 2009.

Research Project

Usurpation by the Secondary: A Dramaturgical Shift

Based predominantly on my experience as a theatregoer in my native Thailand as well as in Europe and North America, I have been captivated by the various ways in which dramatists deal with secondary or minor roles in the theatre. Contact since childhood with indigenous theatre drew my awareness to the significance of secondary figures, cherished by the audience at the expense of the main or even title roles. Subsequent familiarization with Western theatre has deepened this awareness: the transformation of the role of “confidant(e)” within the framework of, for example, the “tragédie classique” points in the direction of a dramatic dynamism which is propelled by constantly shifting centres of interest. At some point, “usurpation by the secondary” occurs, as exemplified in Schiller’s Don Karlos. The study draws on examples from Thai and Western dramatic literature, both classical and modern, in order to substantiate the hypothesis that such dramaturgical shifts constitute a strategy on the part of dramatists to lend greater philosophical strength to their works.

Video Interview

Watch a video interview with Chetana Nagavajara.

Recommended Publications

  • Nagavajara, C., Brecht and France. Bern: Peter Lang, 1994.
  • Hartmann, P., Zur Dramaturgie der Nebenfigur in Theater und Film. Marburg: Tectum Verlag, 2000. (in German)
  • Nagavajara, C., “Unzeitgemäβe Betrachtungen eines theaterliebenden Asiaten”, in C. Nagavajara, Auf der Suche nach einer grenzüberschreitenden Wissenschaftskultur. Nakorn Pathom: Department of German, Silpakorn University, 2013, pp. 263-300 (in German). 


Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung