English Theatre Culture 1660–1737, Online Symposium #2

Sociology of the Restoration and Early 18th-century English Theatre

"My glass and I could never yet agree what face I should make when [the actors] come blurt out with a nasty thing in a play. For all the men presently look upon the women, that’s certain; so laugh we must not."
(John Vanbrugh, The Provoked Wife, 3.3)

There appears to be a trend in recent approaches to the study of English Restoration and early 18th-century drama and theatre. What started as drama history based on literary analysis has been largely transformed into histories of theatre, culture, politics, and performance studies, explored along a rich variety of subjects: print culture and the transmission of information, personal biographies, the focus on the acting body and its semiotics, the evolving public sphere, material culture, theatrical anthropology, gender dynamics, postcolonial and other conceptual frameworks, and various other cultural readings. The one aspect that all those issues have in common is the focus on the social dimension of theatre, as all participants – playwrights, actors, singers, dances, managers, playhouse staff, ticket sellers, spectators, contemporary commentators, critics, etc – are considered essential agents of the theatrical culture of the period.

The aim of our online seminar is to open a discussion about Restoration and early 18th-century theatre as a social practice, which was intertwined with, and shaped by, other social practices of its time. It is hoped that by looking at the social dynamics of both on-stage and off-stage theatrical phenomena, we can see various interdependencies within the sociocultural significance of theatrical experience.

We welcome papers which address (but are not limited to) the following topics:

  • theatre’s interaction with other social practices of the period such as merchandising, fashion, travelling, press, education, literacy, literature and visual arts, displays of power and social status, marriage and sexuality etc.,
  • behind the scenes: theatre management, playhouse staff, and attached communities,
  • audience as a community, its growing diversification and the consequent commodification and commercialization of theatrical culture,
  • theatre and public opinion,
  • the private vs the public in theatre,
  • theatre and print culture,
  • theatre and the popular culture,
  • theatre promotion, perception, and reception.

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 Anna Mikyšková (anna.mikyskova@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 as well, feel free to register on the same email address.

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