Theatre and Drama Studies Conference - HISTORY and MEMORY

deadline for submissions: 
November 10, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Theatre and Drama Network

Media, art and literature in the late-twentieth and early twenty-first century have been inundated with the memories and portrayals of wars, upheavals, declarations, political persecutions, colonial struggles and religious/ideological wars and terror acts. The spectacles of the industrial and global world as well as digitalised life, ruthless socio-economic dynamics, widening rich/poor gap, generational discrepancies and pandemics have left lasting marks on the human psyche and fostered art and literature to tackle the stigmas and impacts of the long century on contemporary life. Dystopias and anti-utopias of the modern world also made the past a space for (social, political, artistic) exploration, reconsideration, reclamation and reconciliation. With the advance of Covid-19, the fundamental constituents of theatre like space and player-audience relationship have necessarily come under theoretical attack, yielding to the discussions about the possibilities of theatre through contemporary digital instruments. In this context, theatre, cultural performances and their texts offer us a range of shared, reviewed or subjective histories and experiences. They function as instruments for shaping the acts of communal or collective memories, exploring identities and examining history/human relations in various contemporary genres such as political, verbatim, immersive, experimental, diaspora or postdramatic theatres.

The term theatre originates from an ancient Greek word theatron (an instrument forviewing) referring to the visuality of theatre, negating the rest of dramatic and theatrical elements. However, modern theatre signifies visual, performative, collective and artistic functions in staging various phenomena and produces different possibilities and polemics in both theory and reality. Performances and rereadings/re-enactment of spaces, histories and identities situate memory as a form of social, cultural, and political practice across art and humanities disciplines offering significant insights into various concepts and terms such as death, mourning, melancholia, nostalgia, loss and trauma.

Considering the extended field of drama and theatre studies, our new conference series aims to discuss the topics of history and memory in connection to theatrical movements that emerged in the last century up to the present such as Epic Theatre, Theatre of the Absurd, Theatre of the Oppressed, Theatre of Cruelty, Immersive Theatre, In-yer-face Theatre and Postdramatic Theatre. While we expect to host a range of critical readings of and interdisciplinary perspectives into the dramatic texts and theatrical performances, any theoretical contributions incorporating Postcolonial, (Post)Marxist, (Post)modernist, (Post)structuralist, New Historicist, Cultural Materialist, (New) Feminist, Posthumanist, Eco-critical (re)readings of past, history and memory with drama and theatre studies will be encouraged to reemphasise the close bond between dramatic/theatrical criticism and cultural/literary theories.         

Topics of interest in the context of drama, theatre and performance studies include but are not restricted to the following:

  • Critical approaches to history, memory and counter-memory in drama/theatre
  • Historical consciousness, cultural and public histories
  • Representations and presentations of past and memory
  • The function of commemorative or counter-commemorative landscapes in the UK’s multicultural history
  • Communicating difficult pasts
  • War, history, trauma and loss
  • Democracy, participation, equality and their historicisation
  • Concepts of nostalgia, longing, angst, and melancholia
  • The aesthetics of historical representation in drama/theatre
  • Visual representation and documentation of history, past, memory, post-memory
  • The relationship between comedy and history in theatre
  • Death, grief, loss and remembrance
  • Politics, theatre and history
  • The making, remaking and un-making of marginal identities
  • Public, private lives and dramatic history/life (re)writing in drama/theatre.
  • Popular culture and cultural memory
  • Cultural, societal and aesthetic transformations
  • Alternative/aesthetic forms of remembering and/or re-enacting the past
  • History in theatrical and artistic performances
  • Live-streamed performances in the post-Covid-19 period and intermediality in theatre and performance
  • Exile, migration and diaspora
  • Representation of cultural and ethnic minorities in the UK
  • Strategies, counter-publics and dramaturgies for circumventing censorship
  • (Self-)Representation of gender identity and roles in theatre/drama 
  • The collective memory of discrimination and hate speech in the contemporary British theatre
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to the history, memory and past in theatre/film/performance art
  • Temporality and spatiality in the dramatic/theatrical representations of public/political/literary and individual histories, memories, conflicts and experiences

Please send your proposal (up to 300 words) for a 20-minute presentation with a short biography including your name, academic background, affiliation, research interests and contact information by 10 November 2021 to:

The confirmed keynote speakers of the conference are Prof Vicky Angelaki from Mid Sweden University, Sweden, Prof Stewe Waters from the University of East Anglia, UK and Dr Sian Adiseshiah from Loughborough University, UK.