Not a Dry Eye in the House: Tears in Performance – March 21, 2014 - Paris-Sorbonne

full name / name of organization: 
Denis Lagae-Devoldère and Marie Pecorari (Paris-Sorbonne)

Representing tears in the theatre hinges on the paradoxical performance of an absence: while the lacrimal flow can usually be explained, its physical manifestation mostly eludes visibility. Yet the presence of tears cannot easily be dismissed, as it is far from anecdotal. Portrayals of and discourses on tears indeed abound in theatre history: whether meant to affect the performers or the spectators, this emotional outburst can express a wide range of affects, from sorrow to joy, to laughter and awe.

We welcome contributions from scholars working in the fields of theatre, performance, literary, and cultural studies across cultures and time periods.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

tropes and means to represent tears (metonymy, transfer, substitution; body language, sound, voice, makeup)
the cultural status of the shedding of tears, and its possible evolution
(crocodile) tears as dramatic strategy
the polysemy of tears
overflow and excess
acting theories about crying
audience reactions and performer/spectator interactions

Please send a 300-word abstract and a short bio to by November 15, 2013. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by the end of November.

The symposium will take place at Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art ( in central Paris.
A publication of selected papers is planned.