Eighteenth Century Theatrical Histories, or, the Long, the Deep, and the Wide: ASTR, Nashville, November 1-4, 2012

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American Society for Theatre Research
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For the 2012 conference of the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), we seek papers for a Working Group entitled “Eighteenth-Century Theatrical Histories, or, the Long, the Deep, and the Wide.” Long, deep, and wide are three descriptive words often associated with 18th century studies, and nodding to the theme of the conference we want to explore how these words might help “cast” the theatrical history of the 18th century we construct. We are particularly interested in papers that address the following question posed by the conference organizers: “How might we resituate theorizations of the archive and the repertoire, of periodization and the past, within our research on theatrical histories?” Recently, excellent new histories of the 18th century have emerged, challenging the notions of who “performed” during the 18th century and how those performances were understood. We seek to continue down these profitable pathways.

Following the conference theme of “Theatrical Histories,” we welcome a range of methodological approaches and scholarly interventions. Proposals may explore the history of theatre practice, examine history through the lens of theatre and performance studies, employ some combination of these approaches, or strike off in new directions. Paper topics might include:

*How current theories on gender, race, sexuality, affect, or spectatorship help or do not help us deepen our understanding of the 18th century. What “actors” should we deepen our work to include? How does the eighteenth century resonate in the contemporary world?

*The benefits or pitfalls of challenging notions of geography to argue that moving outside those artificial constructs better helps us understand the time period. How might we widen our notion of these fixed categories usefully? What effect do terms like “global” and “transatlantic” have on our understanding of eighteenth-century theatrical histories?

*Rethinking or resisting a move to rethink notions of periodization. What would lengthening our scope of exploration and thinking about continuations and ruptures help us discover? How did eighteenth-century theatrical practices reflect on or appropriate earlier periods (Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance)?
Participants will draft a 10-15 page paper to circulate to subgroups by September 15th. After online discussions within the small subgroup and with the group leaders, participants will have the opportunity to make revisions before circulating their papers to the entire working group on October 15th. The ASTR Conference will take place November 1-4, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (More details at http://www.astr.org/)

250 word abstracts or questions should be sent by May 31 to both:

Jennifer Kokai, Weber State University, jenniferkokai@weber.edu
Daniel Smith, University of Illinois at Chicago, smithdan@uic.edu

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