Team and Topics
Members of the DramaNet Project (2012-2016)
The circulation of early modern European literatures in the eighteenth-century folk plays in Tyrol
At first glance, the so called Volksschauspiele, or folk plays, seem far removed from any relevant literature. But 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 aims to view folk plays as a crystallisation of drama circulation in the European cultural net.
In 2015, T. Bernhart was part of the organizing committee of the DramaNet conference on Poetics and Politics. He staged the "Griseldis" drama at the Benetictine Marienberg abbey of Mals, Tyrol, in November 2016.
Dr. phil. Pauline Beaucé
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Cultural Brokers and Knots: Theatrical Devices in Early Modern Academies in Italy, Spain and France
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.
Familiarising the Exotic: Introducing European Drama in Early Modern India
The proposed project seeks to investigate, using, bio-critically and historiographically, among others, the specific example of a late-eighteenth-century Russian musician, theatre-director, traveller, linguist, Indologist and, as recent archival research in St Petersburg, Russia, suggests, spy, Gerasim Lebedev (1749-1818), the transculturative “floating of Early Modern European drama material to the non-occidental East”. On 27th November, 1795, he directed the first play “in the Bengalee style”, based on The Disguise, a comedy written by Richard Paul Jodrell (1745–1831), to be performed on the Calcutta-stage, making it the first “modern” play to be staged in the Indian Subcontinent. The continually-evolving process of the hybridisation of Anglo-European drama from Lebedev to Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824-73), a popular Bengali poet and dramatist who had lived in France, will be studied through the prisms of India's own hoary dramaturgical and poetical tradition/s, primarily-articulated in Bharata's Nātyaśāstra (“Treatise on Drama”), ancient India's foremost academic treatise on drama, dramaturgy and related themes, and Stephen Greenblatt's theoretical formulation of New Historicism; the latter will be of the utmost significance vis-à-vis the historical contextualisation of literary discourse/s.
Dr. phil. Jaša Drnovšek
Škofjeloški pasijon and the (Central-)European tradition of passion plays. On the trail of a genre-specific intercultural net
The Škofja Loka Passion Play (orig. Škofjeloški pasijon) was written in 1725-27 by Capuchin friar Romuald. This earliest existing dramatic text written in Slovene language is esteemed to be one of the highest achievements in Slovene Baroque literature. Moreover, the manuscript is regarded as the only promptbook for passion plays of the European Baroque era that has been preserved as an entity. To date, the Škofja Loka Passion Play had been investigated mainly in the context of Slovene Baroque literature. Singular and isolated aspects of the text such as style or verse structure have been highlighted, as well as issues concerning the dating of the manuscript. The impact of the Škofja Loka Passion Play within the (Central) European tradition of passion plays or of its literary models remained almost untouched. In order to understand the genesis of the Škofja Loka Passion Play, the vast genre-specific and dynamic intercultural net administered by the Catholic Church for centuries was to be reconstructed. Thorough archive work (mostly in church archives in Austria, southern Germany and the Czech Republic) and comparative analysis now permit new insights into historical development of the (Central) European passion plays.
In 2015, J. Drnovšek was part of the organizing committee of the DramaNet conference on Poetics and Politics. He also co-organized the History and Drama conference in October 2016.
Body and Soul: Medieval Dramatisations
Gaia Gubbini's current research 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 are 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, in particular of the texts by the Fathers of the Church and of medical and philosophical treatises that define the understanding of physical activities - such as breathing - and of immaterial aspects - such as the nature of the spirit. The results of the study highlight the presence and relevance of these themes in medieval culture, considering texts in langue d’oc, langue d’oïl and ancient Italian and 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. The corpus analysed includes medieval texts in latin and romance languages.
Dr. phil. Katja Gvozdeva
Merry Men: Masculine Order and Carnivalesque Drama in Early Modern France and Italy
This project seeks to investigate the early modern carnivalesque cultures in France and Italy from a comparative perspective, considering these within the dramatic context of performed masculinity. Put on stage by traditional societies of merry men (compagnies joyeuses/gaie compagnie) who were 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) 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.
In November 2013, K. Gvozdeva organized – together with J. Küpper, K. Ospovat and T. Korneeva – the DramaNet conference Dramatic Experience. The conference proceedings are available at Brill publishers online.
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Concepts of Text and Scripture in Early Modern Drama
The project focuses questions applying to the theoretical field of the archaeology of concepts of 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 opens a new perspective on the history of European early modern drama.
In 2015, S. T. Kilian was part of the organizing committee of the DramaNet conference on Poetics and Politics.
The Dramaturgy of the Spectator: Theatre, Audience, and the Public Sphere in Late Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Italy
How did spectators experience theatre at the dawn of modernity? How we can reconstruct, describe, and better understand the theatre audiences of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? What dramatic techniques did playwrights develop in response to the horizon of expectations of theatre-goers? How, and why did audience members in this period gain visibility in discourse about theatre and become both a force of influence and a force worth influencing? When did audience response begin to rival the judgment of specialists and become the primary arbiter of the quality of theatrical performances? What theories on the role of the spectator were developed in eighteenth-century dramatic and aesthetic criticism?
The aim of this project is to provide compelling answers to these unresolved questions. 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.
In November 2013, Tatiana Korneeva organized – together with J. Küpper, K. Gvozdeva and K. Ospovat – the DramaNet conference Dramatic Experience. The conference proceedings are available at Brill publishers online. T. Korneeva also co-organised the History and Drama conference in October 2016.
Dr. phil. Kiril Ospovat
Scenarios of Power: Tragedy and Court Theater in Early Modern Russia
K. Ospovat's research deals with neoclassical tragedy as a performative genre characteristic for Early Modern European court theater and inscribed into the overall system of courtly ritual. The starting point has been the oeuvre of Aleksandr Sumarokov (1717–1777), the first Russian neoclassical dramatist and the founder of Russian-language court theater, but 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 volume has appeared in 2016: Terror and Pity: Aleksandr Sumarokov and the Theater of Power in Elizabethan Russia, Boston. Academic Studies Press.
In November 2013, Kiril Ospovat organized – together with J. Küpper, K. Gvozdeva and T. Korneeva – the DramaNet conference Dramatic Experience. Conference proceedings are available at Brill publishers online.
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The Vicarious. Variants in Blumenberg. Delegation in Early Modern Drama (Rojas, Machiavelli, Shakespeare)
DS Mayfield is working on Early Modern drama (Rojas, Machiavelli, Shakespeare) with Blumenberg as a theoretical framework. In 2015, he was a Global Humanities Junior Research and Teaching Fellow at Johns Hopkins University. A book with the title Artful Immorality – Variants of Cynicism. Machiavelli, Gracián, Diderot, Nietzsche appeared with de Gruyter in 2015.
D.S. Mayfield was organiser of the DramaNet conference Rhethoric and Drama in February 2016.
Jan Mosch, MA
'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.
Dr. phil. Leonie Pawlita
Scepticism in Early Modern European Drama
Considering the highly influential revival of ancient Scepticism in the 16th and 17th centuries, which took place in a time of radical changes in hitherto valid certainties, this project seeks to investigate, from a comparative perspective, the ways in which and to what extent elements deriving from Scepticism, as well as its related epistemological questions and 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.
Madeline Ruegg, MA
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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