The Rest is History: Ireland, Performance and The Historical Imagination

full name / name of organization: 
Christopher Collins and Mary P. Caulfield. The School of Drama, Film and Music. The University of Dublin, Trinity College.

Dear Colleagues,

Apologies for cross-posting.

Please see below our general call for papers for our symposium: The Rest is History: Ireland, Performance and The Historical Imagination.

This symposium seeks to re-negotiate the archive of Irish theatre and performance in order to cast a light on those subterranean dramaturgies that are either characterised as the discontents of historical time or indeed, transmogrified into the historical imagination.

History has always been written as a totalising narrative that seeks to surrender all recalcitrant logics to a tide of progress. At best those logics that cannot be seamlessly accommodated are variously characterised as irrational, but more often than not they are forgotten within the sands of time. With respect to Irish theatre and performance, which has had a perennial impetus to hold a 'mirror up to the nation', the performance of forgotten histories creates a peculiar problem; all of a sudden those irrational and forgotten logics are brought into theatres of national-popular sovereignty where they interrogate and destabilize the imagined history of the people-nation.

Sometimes these performances can have sincere ramifications, such as Sean O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars (1926). But at other times they are easily sutured within the historical imagination (St. Patrick's Festival 1966 - ). In this way, the symposium aims to act as a means of recovery and welcomes those papers that seek to 'brush history against the grain' in Walter Benajmin's useful phrase, by locating histories that lurk in between the cracks and fissures to bring a new vitality to the historical archive.

Suggested topics:

· Neglected plays and performances.

· Plays and performances that attempt to write or re-write history.

· Alternative and anecdotal dramaturgies in performance.

· Reconsidering the Revival.

· Autobiography and performance.

· Verbatim performance.

· Gender and performance.

· Anthropology and the Irish stage.

· The discontents of urban/rural Ireland.

· The turbulence of tradition in performance.

· Performance that problematises modernity.

· Public performance

· The weight of history in performance.

· Commemoration as performance.

· Oral tradition

· The Occult

· Early Celtic performance

· Performing memory

· Unknown plays by well-known playwrights

We look forward to receiving a title for your paper and an abstract proposal of 250 words, along with a brief bio and contact details by February 15, 2011.

You can send this by replying to

Thank you.

Christopher Collins and Mary P. Caulfield

Symposium Organisers