The DramaNet project is funded by a five-year ERC Advanced Grant (2011 to 2016).
It investigates Early Modern European drama and its global dissemination by means of the theoretical concept of the cultural net.
Early Modern drama presents a distinctive departure from the widely held belief that Early Modern literary culture in general was rather late in reacting to the fundamental religious, political, and social developments occurring in contemporaneous European societies. Rather, the dramatic performances and productions of this era reflect the establishment of a pervasive visual culture as the leading form of mass media. Unlike their predecessors, Early Modern European dramatists thus anticipated a given contemporary audience in their writings: an audience that, which itself had changed and diversified to include the illiterate working class along with the nobility. Such a broadening effect vis-à-vis the audience of literary works did not expand to other genres until centuries later, when literacy became considerably more widespread.
DramaNet explores the concept of the cultural net as a non-hierarchical structure, intentionally created by human beings for various purposes. The concept is based on the understanding of a net as enabling the multi-directional circulation of conceptual and material forms, while facilitating the withdrawal of floating material irrespective of its spatial or temporal origin. Making use of the cultural net as an analytical tool releases literary texts from the boundaries of national cultures. The transcultural lens facilitates analyzing traits common to spatially or temporally separated dramatic works, while also permitting a closer look at the reception of a particular play in a given time or place remote from its origin. This includes the role of mass media as a tool for social integration, the question of how Early Modern mass culture relates to other phenomena of Early Modern era, as well as examining the extent to which Early Modern theatre itself may be considered decidedly modern. The exchange of these conceptual aspects and material forms within European national states ‒ as well as between Europe and the non-European East, such as India, China, or Japan ‒ is at the core of what defines Early Modern culture.