English Theatre Culture 1660–1737, Online Symposium #2

Restoration Theatre, Politics, and Religion

"The Restoration theatre was as political as the politics of the court of Charles II were theatrical."
(Judy A. Hayden, Of Love and War: The Political Voice in the Early Plays of Aphra Behn)

That Restoration drama was essentially political has become a truism by now and that claim might, by extension, account for other literary genres as well. In what way is the Restoration drama specific, though? How does the political engagement of genres represented in performance differ from other literary texts? One of the major fields in recent Restoration studies seems to be research on the role of theatre in generating various types of ideologies – imperialism, Royalism, democracy, celebrity, Englishness and many more. The aim of this seminar is to explore the relationship of Restoration theatre, politics and ideologies of the late 17th and early 18th centuries and contemporary religious and ethical debates both in the textual sources of plays and in the operational practice of Restoration theatres. There are certain intensive periods which particularly attract attention to the political engagement of drama, such as the Exclusion Crisis, but the seminar invites contributions focused on the whole span of the Restoration period and beyond (roughly 1660–1737), comprising both openly politically engaged genres (political tragedy, satire etc.) and texts or performances less frequently discussed in this context.

The seminar invites papers on the relationship between Restoration theatre, politics and religion, whose topics might include (but are not limited to) the following issues:

  • political interpretation of Restoration drama – possible methodological approaches,
  • religious and political debate on the stage,
  • the place of Restoration theatre in generating the ideologies of celebrity, of monarchical democracy and party politics, of Englishness and imperialism,
  • relationship of the theatres and court, mutual influence, practical impact of political and religious life on the theatres, playwrights, and actors, censure and censorship,
  • prologues, epilogues, afterpieces, music, and performance – and ways in which they shaped the audience’s perception of the plays,
  • politics, allegory, and adaptation,
  • the portrayal of history and of the present in the Restoration play.

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 Kristýna Janská (kristyna.janska@ff.cuni.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 as well, feel free to register on the same email address.

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