Animating the Early Modern Stage (ACLA, Utrecht)

deadline for submissions: 
September 23, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Ellen Welch, UNC-Chapel Hill and Alison Calhoun, Indiana University
contact email: 

"Animating the Early Modern Stage," ACLA Seminar, July 6-9, 2016, Utrecht This seminar will explore what theater and the performing arts contribute to early modern theories of life, the soul, and autonomy. At a time when European philosophers debated the distinction between material bodies and lively bodies, between organic machines and ensouled beings, artists and performers innovated new techniques for bringing stage objects to life through mechanical or human manipulation. We invite contributions that examine a wide array of techniques for “animation” in theater and the performing arts of the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries, from any national/cultural perspective. Topics or objects of study might include theater machines, scenography and architecture, costumes, puppetry, automata, ventriloquism, dance and choreography, and music. Together, we hope to explore questions such as: How does performance or staging give the illusion of breath, movement, speech, emotion, and/or volition to inert matter or (in the case of allegory) to abstract concepts? What constituted an effective imitation of life? What technologies were used to accomplish it? How does theatrical animation dialogue with early modern philosophies of life and movement, and what does this say about notions of what it meant to be human, beast, or inanimate? How do we understand the artist’s role as animator in relation to the divine?Proposals for papers may be submitted on the ACLA website from September 1 to September 23, 2016. Please visit 
 Prospective participants may also contact the co-organizers Alison Calhoun ( and Ellen Welch ( for more information.