English Theatre Culture 1660–1737, Online Symposium #2

Performing Identity on the Restoration Stage

“And indeed you shall hardly see a fool upon the stage but he’s a knight. And to tell you the truth, they have kept me these six years from being a knight in earnest, for fear of being knighted in a play, and dubbed a fool.”

(William Wycherley, The Country Wife, 3.2)

Restoration England saw probably the most radical reconfiguration of social, cultural, economic and political lives in the country’s history. With the theatre being embedded in the social milieu more than ever before, Restoration plays and playhouses became popular and (to an extent) open fora for a discussion of societal movements and issues of the period. Plays and playwrights were fascinated by, deeply involved in, and reflective of contemporary society and its morals, and the audience members could easily recognise themselves and their own lived experience represented on the stage. One of the most crucial changes that English theatre witnessed at this time was, of course, the appearance of professional female authors and the physical presence of women on the stage, which further reset the dynamics not only of plays written after 1660, but also of those from the pre-Revolution era that were revived and altered for the new conditions. The issue of gender became central to Restoration drama and vastly influenced all aspects of the then theatrical sphere.

The present panel will focus on the topic of social representation in the broadest sense on the Restoration stage. The focus will be mainly on the dramatic works themselves; however, interdisciplinary approaches addressing contextual issues are welcome. The seminar topics might include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • early modern class and social stratification on the Restoration stage,
  • dramatic setting as character,
  • the presence of the playwright in the play,
  • (re-)defining and performing gender,
  • representing gender on the English stage before and after 1660,
  • “feminism” and “anti-feminism” in Restoration plays,
  • breaking social taboos in the theatre,
  • the influence of the above on the genre development in the period.

We welcome a variety of paper formats, from short interventions and notes, to full conference papers.

Please send your abstract (of no more than 250 words) to Filip Krajník (filip.krajnik@phil.muni.cz) by March 7, 2021.

We expect that accepted papers or paper theses should be pre-circulated to seminar participants in advance. The format of the seminar will be a moderated discussion based on the pre-circulated contributions and short (up to 10 minute) presentations of their main thesis on the day.

Registered, non-presenting auditors are welcome.

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