Theatre Survey - CFP (Special Issue on Microhistory)

full name / name of organization: 
Esther Kim Lee, Editor of Theatre Survey
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Call for Papers

Theatre Survey

Special Issue edited by guest editor, Peter A. Davis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"Theatre History as Microhistory"

Theatre Survey invites submissions for a special issue on the application of microhistory to the writing of theatre histories. Much work has been done over the last couple of decades in delineating new theatre historiographies and reimagining theoretical approaches to telling the history of the theatre. Growing, in part, out of the rejection of positivism and the standard histories of institutions and power structures, post-modern thinking opened up new avenues of looking at theatre history by often inverting the traditional perspective. One avenue of particular interest is the growing field of microhistory, which seems particularly suited to theatre but which, to date, has not been fully realized in our field.

As exemplified by the works of recent cultural and social historians, microhistory eschews the larger quantification and generalizations of history as social science, focusing instead on the particular, the specialized, the outlier as exception rather than generalized abstractions of the average or the norm. According to Giovanni Levi, "Microhistorians concentrate on the contradictions of normative systems and therefore on the fragmentation, contradictions and plurality of viewpoints which make all systems fluid and open." Consequently, microhistorians have reinvigorated the narrative (or neo-narrative) as a vital tool in analyzing the normative and revealing the subjective nature of historical discourse. By highlighting the individual exceptions, examining the archival evidence in extraordinary detail, and retelling the story through contextualized narrative, microhistory seeks to expose how larger systems and institutions react and function at the edges of history, revealing in greater depth their wider application by how they handle the exception. Individual events, physical spaces, audience, actors, and performances are often beyond the norm and highly individualized stories that reveal the larger structures through the exception. While the journal will consider essays that explore new historiographies, the effective purpose of this edition is to put historiographical theory into practice. Preference will be given, therefore, to those essays that directly utilize microhistory in retelling the history of theatre

Please submit full papers (25-40 pages) in electronic format and include a brief abstract of the essay (ca. 250 words) by using the online submission link available on the Theatre Survey web page (at Be sure to read and follow the "Submission Guidelines." Inquiries should be sent to Peter A. Davis at

Deadline: February 15, 2013.