Call for Papers

Call for Papers

Conference theme

The conference “Presenting the Theatrical Past” addresses questions concerning our relationship to theatre history, i.e. the relation between present and past. How and why do we deal with history? What do we do with history? To what extent is historical research an exploration of our present? Departing from the 250th anniversary of the Drottningholm Court Theatre the IFTR conference 2016 focuses on critical perspectives on theatre history. The theatre of the past is accessible to us via historical objects, theoretical discourses and archive materials. But we can also experience it through performance practices that keep traditions alive or engage in re-enactments of theatre events and representations. Critical investigation of historiographical issues in the field of Theatre Studies touches upon the interplay between theatrical artefacts, practices and discourses. In our view such historical artefacts in relation to theatre can be theatre sites/venues, historical objects (props, scenery, costumes), archival materials and documents, historical locations for re-enactments, etc. Practices comprise performances such as theatre, drama, dance, opera, performance, installation art, laboratory experiments, educational curricula etc. The notion of discourse relates to historical ideas as well as contemporary theories, questions of ‘historically informed productions’ (HIP) and historiographical concepts, reconstructions of past performances etc.

Inspired by critical historiographical concepts the organizers invite participants to contribute to the following possible fields/sections:

Historiography – methods, theories

After the ‘deconstructionist turn’ in historiography – what are, today, the most challenging aspects of doing historical research? Is the demand for interpretative and narrative closures in histories still prevalent? If so what shapes do they take? Are there strategies for resisting these kinds of closures? Are there still overarching theories of history and what would their use be for theatre history?

Genealogies and traditions

What are the archaeologies of theatre today? Which lines of tradition do we construct to better understand theatre history? Where are the breaks in these traditions? What are the political implications/motives involved in establishing certain genealogies? How and why does a succession of events transform into a tradition? Is there any alternative periodization that more adequately would reflect the changes in a global theatre history?

Diversity/hegemony of histories

Who is doing history? Who is speaking/writing history? What would it mean if artists wrote their own histories? Are there examples of co-operations between artists and scholars in which diversity is stressed in order to reach interpretative pluralism, or reduced them in order to form historical coherence? How do transnational and transcultural perspectives change our idea of history? Has the distinction between theatre and performance had any impact on the writing of histories?

Turning points in history

What characterizes turning points in history? What kind of narrative codes and conventions do they rely upon? What kind of narrative codes and conventions do we try to re-think from our contemporary perspectives? Does each culture and society have their own ‘turning points’? How do they shift or relate in a global history perspective?

Crisis and trauma

How do historical crises have an impact on theatre? What were historical moments of crisis that affected theatre institutions and theatre practices? How do past events become a trauma and what are the theatrical articulations of it? How does theatre cope with cultural memories of crisis and trauma? Can theatre be a place of reconciliation with the past?

Archives, digital humanities and historical research

How do archival structures change our way of thinking and writing history? What is appearing/disappearing in the archives over time? In what ways have ideas of ‘open source’ affected the production of performance? How can the investigation of ‘local’ source material add to the articulation of shared international histories? How does digitalization change our access to historical sources? Is ‘Big Data’ a way to grasp theatre history?

Traces, commodities, materialities of history

How do we cope with historical artefacts and objects as source material? In what ways is history incorporated in materials? And how do we make certain objects/materials speak to us? What is the relation between the document (written) and the monument (built)? How do historical objects become commodities that gain market value, how do we cope with the marketing of history?

Cultural heritage and policies

How can we trace the histories of theatre buildings? How does a theatre become a cultural heritage, and how does this affect theatre practice? How do we cope with theatre practices considered to be immaterial cultural heritage? Are they allowed to change? What are the success stories/the failures of cultural policies concerning historical sites and practices?

Theatre and the History of Ideas

How does theatre relate to historical ideas about citizenship, aesthetics, education, economy, and periodisation? How can an approach to theatre history from the perspective of the history of ideas deepen our understanding of theatrical activities? Can we at the same time see how theatre reflects, responds to and contributes to philosophical activities of the time?

Oral history, performing history, re-enactments

What is the role of reconstructions today, for scholars as well as for artists? Are there differences between the uses of concepts such as reconstruction, imaginative reconstruction, revisiting, remaking etc, and if so what are they? What aspects of history can performance and oral history bring to the fore, what challenges do such historiographical tools and methods bring about?


General Panels

General Panels respond to the theme of the conference. They are typically composed of three independently proposed papers that share some common aspect (theme, methodology, area of inquiry, geographical focus, etc.). The Conference Organizers make every effort to match papers into coherent panels chaired by scholars versed in the field, therefore it is very important that the abstract you submit clearly reflects the central topic and/or methodology of your paper.

Each General Panel session lasts for 1h 30 min, it runs concurrently with other General Panels at the conference, and is open to all conference participants. Each panelist is given a 20 min time to present their paper, including any audio-visual or practical demonstration, plus an additional 10 min for Q&A with the audience. Please, restrict the duration of your paper presentations to 20 min, since any additional time would cut on your fellow panelists’ time, who have probably worked as hard as yourself on their papers.

The Chairs of General Panels will be instructed to gently enforce the time restrictions for each panelist in order to allow for open discussion after the presentations, which we feel is one of the most enriching elements of conference interaction. The Chair of each panel may decide at her/his discretion if the open discussion will happen after each paper or after all three presentations. We will make an effort to keep paper presentations at each panel in the order they are published on the conference schedule.

New Scholars’ Forum

The New Scholars’ Forum, first organised in Canterbury in 1998, is a highlight of IFTR’s annual conferences. The Forum aims to give new scholars and especially doctoral students an opportunity to present their research in a supportive environment that also encourages lively debate. To this end, forum sessions will be chaired by an experienced academic and scheduled to avoid overlap with general conference panels so that all delegates can attend. The Forum also provides an excellent opportunity to make contacts with other new scholars.

Papers for this forum do not need to follow the specific themes given for the annual conferences, and while they are expected to be shorter than papers in regular sessions, the time allocated for response is longer. Each participating scholar will be given 10 minutes to present his/her paper to allow maximum discussion and feedback.

Abstracts should give a brief account of a research project and outline the methodology, sources and conceptual approach. Please state clearly that the paper is proposed for the New Scholars’ Forum. New Scholars may participate in the Forum a maximum of three times in different annual conferences, after which they should consider joining an IFTR working group and/or presenting a paper in one of the main panel sessions.

Working Groups

Working Groups lie at the heart of the Federation’s scholarly exchanges. The purpose of these on-going groups is to provide sustained scholarly dialogue and continuity of exchange over time. Meeting at the yearly conferences, but sometimes in between as well, the Working Groups generally develop a programme of research on the topic of their choice. Memberships are fluid, but a core of long-term members provide the critical continuity and ongoing developmental leadership.

Working Groups that will meet in Stockholm:

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