CDE Conference 2014 – CFP: "Theatre and History: Cultural Transformations"

full name / name of organization: 
The German Society for Contemporary Theatre and Drama in English
contact email: 

23rd Annual CDE Conference, Hamburg, Germany, 19 June - 22 June 2014

The German Society for Contemporary Theatre and Drama in English (CDE) is pleased to announce its 23rd Annual Conference (19-22 June 2014). It will be organized by the Department of English and American Studies (Prof. Ute Berns) at the University of Hamburg and held as a residential conference at Elsa Brändström Haus in Hamburg.


This conference addresses versions and visions of history in contemporary drama and theatre in English across the world. Just as the "end of history" proclaimed in 1989 has turned out to be a chimera, so the historical has remained a powerful presence in the plays and performances we have seen since then. Many plays challenge hegemonic historiography from gendered, postcolonial, and ecological perspectives that pluralize the past. And in re-conceiving the past and historicizing the present in its cultural transformations and global entanglements, these plays and performances bear witness to a significant "plurality of temporalities" (Russell West-Pavlov 2013).

In recent decades, history has featured in history plays, verbatim or memory plays, staged biographies, and enactments 'on location'. They may bear traces of the activist deployments of history in the 1970s, or react to postmodernist constructions of a 'permanent present' (Paul Virilio 1991). At the same time the global unsustainability of dominant modes of production has raised the awareness of the material embeddedness of all historical processes. Hence playwrights and theatre practitioners do not only stage but also scrutinize and resist linear notions of history. They create alternative temporalities, whether traumatic or mythical, religious or ritualistic. And they address the material or environmental processes within which these temporalities unfold.

How do the 'here-and-now' of the performance situation and the embodied material process of theatrical performance figure in this? Can the aesthetics of theatre challenge the notion of necessity, imposed on history in retrospect and repressing all contingency? And how does theatre recover history as a process harbouring multiple futures?

The 2014 CDE conference aims to investigate the relations between theatre and history, to analyse different temporalities in performance, and to explore the historical visions thus emerging.

We invite papers in English of 20 minutes length. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

• aesthetic figurations of histories and temporalities
• histories of violence and war
• women and history
• modernity, postcoloniality and history
• history and environment

In accordance with CDE's constitutional policy, papers should deal exclusively with contemporary (i.e. post-1989) theatre and drama in English.

Abstracts: Abstracts (300 words) of suggested papers (20 minutes
delivery max.) should include a short biographical note
plus full address and institutional affiliation.
Deadline: 15 December 2013
Contact: Ute Berns (
Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik
Von-Melle-Park 6, 20146 Hamburg.

N.B. Only paid-up members are eligible to give papers at CDE conferences. Membership subscriptions may be taken out or renewed during the conference. For details, please contact the treasurer:

We look forward to receiving your suggestions and welcoming you to Hamburg!