The Theater as an Art of Memory -- ASECS -- 03/18 to 23

full name / name of organization: 
Yann Robert, University of Illinois at Chicago
contact email:

In his Pratique du théâtre (1657), d’Aubignac writes that “C’est une pensée bien ridicule d’aller au théâtre apprendre l’histoire.” Yet by the end of the eighteenth century, the notion that the theater could serve to immortalize historically significant events, both past and present, was widely accepted and practiced.

This panel invites proposals, in French or in English, which study the implications of this commemorative ambition. How does the representation of historical deeds transform the theatrical event--from the design of the stage and the acting style of the performers to the reception of the play by the audience and the press? What are the limits of treating the theater--an art form characterized by mutability and impermanence--as a site of memory? What does it mean to produce a play to immortalize an event, when each performance inevitably differs from all of
the previous ones?

Different approaches, whether historical or theoretical, are encouraged, and proposals dealing with theatrical
traditions outside of France are welcome. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

-- the development of the “tragédie nationale” (de Belloy, Chénier)
-- the rise of new spectacular forms of commemoration (republican festivals)
-- the growing popularity of society / private theater
-- the dramatic culture of the French Revolution
-- the theater of Ancient Greece, as perceived by eighteenth-century thinkers
-- specific examples of commemorative theater, and how these plays shaped the reception of historical events, or how they were themselves shaped by the passage of time

Please send a one-page proposal (in French or in English) to Yann Robert (

cfp categories: