CFP: [Renaissance]

full name / name of organization: 
Pascale DROUET
contact email: 

University of Poitiers (France)
14-15 February 2008
International Conference

Shakespearean Afterlives

        Is there an economy of the spectacular in Shakespeare’s playsâ€"or those of
his contemporaries? Is the spectacular always caught in a pattern of mise
en abyme? How does it reverberate, cathartically or not, from the
actor-spectator to the spectator? Several types of spectaculars could be
considered. One spectacular, that of pageants for example, codified and
controlled by official power and whose aim is to impose admiration and
respect, or that of court masques presenting an amazingly costly show. A
more evanescent spectacular flirting with the irrational and corresponding
to ghostly apparitions (Hamlet, Macbeth) and supernatural phenomena (The
Tempest) which is intended to leave spectators dumbfounded. Another type of
spectacular falls within the scope of the theatre of cruelty (Titus
Andronicus, King Lear) and can be regarded as a fictitious version of
highly visible public torturesâ€"running the risk of appearing over-gruesome
on stage. So what may be given focus to is no doubt the articulation
between the spectacular and ideology, between the spectacular and power
(who pulls the strings and what for), between sheer entertainment and
wonder and a show unquestionably designed to assert absolute powerâ€"to
rephrase it, is there a political economy of the spectacular? Could the
spectacular be the mediated expression of some absolutist force? What else
could it be?

        Such questions are given further scope when the spectacular is to be
performed on stage or adapted on screen. Many are the times when
Shakespeare, resorting to epidictic discourse or ekphrasis, has characters
reporting spectacular scenes (Coriolanus’s military feat for example, or
the arrival of Cleopatra’s barge), sometimes so deeply emotional that they
can hardly be reported (the reunion of Leontes and Perdita for instance).
Some stage or film directors have nevertheless attempted to show those
intense moments. To which point were they successful? More generally
speaking, how can the spectacular be performed and with what technical
means? Is the screen always more powerful than the stage? Isn’t there the
risk of a loss in intensity when what strikes the imagination is explicitly
put before our eyes? Performing the spectacular has evolved through ages
and cultures, and the practice may closely follow technological
improvements. But nowadays how do directors, both stage and film, manage to
trigger the emotions and reactions of spectators living in a society
saturated with special effects and shock pictures?

Abstracts should be sent before 15 November to pascale.drouet_at_fr

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Received on Tue Sep 18 2007 - 15:49:02 EDT