CFP: [Renaissance]

full name / name of organization: 
Pascale DROUET and Richard HILLMAN
contact email: 

Les Cahiers Shakespeare en devenir / The Journal of Shakespearean Afterlives
Cahiers n°3 (December 2009): Theatricality and Madness

Completed contributions, either in French or in English, with note on
contributors (200 words) and abstract (200 words), should be sent by
attached file (.doc or .rtf) to before late May 2009.

        How did madness and theatricality interact in Shakespeare’s England?
Subsidiary questions might include how madness was represented and
performed on stage, whether it was propitious to meta-dramatic strategies,
whether, as a cover, it favoured the emergence of satirical viewpoints, and
to what extent it was appropriated to fit into economies of entertainment
or chastisementâ€"as is the case in The Duchess of Malfi or The Changeling
for instance. Another perspective would be to consider how London’s Bedlam
asylum was partly turned into a theatrical space and welcomed
visitors-spectators to whose gazes authentic madmen were offered, before
seeing how this became dramatic material for Jacobean plays such as The
Changeling or The Honest Whore.

Medical theories, treatises and practices could be taken into account and
related to cultural representations, including drama but also the roguery
pamphlets that unveiled the fake bedlamites’â€"or “abram men”’sâ€"tricks; this
in turn might lead to the analysis of what Elaine Showalter has called “the
two-way transaction between psychatric theory and cultural representation
”. In this regard, the case of Susan Mountfort would be relevant and could
be looked intoâ€"in the early days of Restoration, that madwoman had
disrupted a performance of Hamlet and appropriated Ophelia’s part .

        In either a synchronic or a diachronic perspective, semiotic and
dramaturgical approaches, together with linguistic ones, might be developed
to address such questions as the following. How was madness immediately
made visible and recognizable on stage? What colours and what kind of music
were symbolically associated with it? How have the codes of representation
evolved over the ages, and what do they reveal about the way our society
understands psychological disorders? Is the representation of madness
nowadays as strictly codified as in Jacobean England? For example, is the
close association between madness and womenâ€"according to which Ophelia was
regarded as “a document in madness”, or as a case of love melancholyâ€"still
pertinent? Why are XXIst-century stage directors still interested in plays
dealing with madness, whether in the foreground or in the background?

        Analyses of pictorial representations with madmen or madwomen for
subjectsâ€" Delacroix’s lithographs (The Death of Ophelia, 1843), John
Everett Millais’ paintings (Ophelia, 1852) or other Pre-Raphaelites’
onesâ€"would also be welcome.

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Received on Tue May 27 2008 - 06:53:28 EDT