Monthly Archives: May 2019

CFP Performing Power in the Premodern World

Submissions are invited for Performing Power in the Premodern World, a one-day, interdisciplinary conference to be held at University of Warwick, 9 November 2019.

Keynote Speaker: Dr Naomi Pullin (University of Warwick)
‘The Power of the Light: Quaker Women’s Negotiations of Power and Authority in the Early Modern British Atlantic’

In Shakespeare’s Henry V, a disguised king mingles with his soldiers at Agincourt. Hearing criticism of his actions, he claims ‘the king is but a man, as I am’. Then, when he is alone, he soliloquises, asking ‘what have kings, that privates have not too, / Save ceremony, save general ceremony?’ These lines acknowledge that power and performance have always been interlinked. Monarchy has always had a performative aspect, and the ruled have responded in kind with their own performances. Whole genres of entertainment and performance, as well as specific discourses and conventions, were devised to allow the performance of power to be beneficial to, and understood by, both the ruler and the ruled. Recent scholarship has begun to expand the dramatic canon to include these genres of performance, and scholars have increasingly focused on the duality of power, emphasising the role of the ruled in perpetuating the ruler’s power. Performing Power in the Premodern World aims to expand this conversation.

Proposals are therefore invited for 20-minute papers that deal with the intersection of power and performance in the premodern world. Topics could include, but are not limited to:

  • Court entertainments, including plays and masques;
  • Royal progresses, pageants, entertainments, and tours;
  • Coronations, royal weddings, royal funerals, and other religio-political events;
  • Methods of counsel;
  • Public speeches by monarchs, politicians, and courtiers (especially those that were later published);
  • Plays that depict power and authority;
  • Publicity, fame, celebrity, and power;
  • Broadside ballads and other forms of popular critique;
  • Print culture, cheap print, newsbooks, and other forms of commentary;
  • Patronage and sponsorship;
  • Royal art, architecture, and costuming/fashion;
  • Medallions, and commemorative souvenirs;
  • Performativity and power.

While our temporal parameters stretch from antiquity to the end of the eighteenth century, we have no geographical limits. We are also interested in modern performances that adapt, or interact with, these premodern examples.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words for presentations of 20 minutes and biographies of no more than 100 words to aidannorrie@gmail.com and sophie.l.shorland@gmail.com by 30 August 2019.

The convenors intend to submit a proposal for a special issue of the Royal Studies Journal on ‘Performing Royal Power’, consisting of papers from the conference that focus on performances of royal and monarchical power (and responses to these).

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CFP SMFS sessions at Southeastern Medieval Association Conference

The Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship is seeking abstracts for papers to be delivered in two SMFS-sponsored sessions at the Southeastern Medieval Association Conference, which will convene in Greensboro, North Caroliina 14-16 November, 2019.

Please submit an abstract of 300 words plus a brief bio by 3 June, 2019. (Please note that the sessions are contingent upon conference organizers’ approval, although we have an excellent track record of having our sessions accepted at this conference.)

Contact: Melissa Ridley Elmes, MElmes@lindenwood.edu

Session 1: Sex, Gender, and Violence on the Premodern Stage

This session seeks 15-20 minute papers discussing any aspect of gender and violence as they relate to premodern dramatic texts and/or staging practices. We encourage papers from any discipline and/ or theoretical approach. We are particularly interested in papers examining female/women characters and violence in medieval drama, which is profoundly understudied, but will also happily consider abstracts for papers dealing with masculinities and/or queerness, and papers examining early modern drama.

Session 2: Women and Medicine in the Medieval World

This session seeks 15-20 minute papers on the topic of “women and medicine in the medieval world.” This subject can be construed broadly as women working in a variety of medical practices, or medical practices involving or focused on women, or the writing about and/or theoretical considerations of either, or how women and medicine are depicted in medieval literature, or research on gender and disease, or visual depictions of women and medicine/ medical practices, and similar. We encourage papers from any discipline, and are especially interested in research that engages with the subject of women and medicine, or what we might term “health sciences,” today, from a non-Western or comparative viewpoint although of course any strong proposal will be considered.

Highlights from the Parergon archives

In this new series, we ask members of Parergon‘s Early Career Committee to tell us about a Parergon article that really stood out for them and why they found it valuable for their research. In this post, Dr Keagan Brewer, Honorary Research Associate in the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at The University of Sydney, shares his pick.

Lawrence Warner, “Geoffrey of Monmouth and the De-Judaized Crusade”, Parergon, vol. 21, no. 1 (2004), pp. 19–37. (DOI: 10.1353/pgn.2004.0076)

As an undergraduate, I had been aware of Lawrence Warner’s presence at the Medieval and Early Modern Centre at the University of Sydney. His was a face that I had seen around. I knew he specialised in Middle English, which I would have described at the time as ‘not my sort of thing’. Nevertheless, an enthusiastic undergraduate should read papers written by members of their department.

Warner’s paper was my first exposure to Parergon and the paper itself was incredibly interesting because I was a student of the crusades. It offered a completely novel approach to reading Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britanniae. Having not read it at that stage, I had previously considered this text the domain of Anglo-Saxonists. The main thesis of Warner’s article is that the conquest of Britain can be construed as a ‘de-Judaized crusade’, and that this idea may have appealed to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s intended audience in a milieu of crusading and—all too frequently—anti-Jewish sentiment.

Warner notes the reliance on Old-Testament imagery in crusading literature and by Geoffrey of Monmouth, in both of which the protagonists are made to ‘out-do the Israelites’, as Warner puts it. To the undergraduate me, it was a completely novel way of thinking because it combined domains of medieval history that I considered starkly separate: Britain, crusading, Jewish history, and mythology. Warner links crusading to the Exodus, the Aeneid, the Brutus legends, and to Merlin. Britain and the Holy Land, in reality and idea, were more interconnected than I had previously believed, particularly for medieval English readers. I would recommend this piece to anyone interested in crusading, the politics of Arthurian literature, Jewish history, or the reception of Geoffrey of Monmouth.

Parergon can be accessed via Project MUSE (from Volume 1 (1983)), Australian Public Affairs – Full Text (from 1994), and Humanities Full Text (from 2008). For more information on the current issue and on submitting manuscripts for consideration, please visit https://parergon.org/

 

CFP Histories of Death: An International Symposium

Histories of Death: An International Symposium will take place at the University of Turku, Finland, February 19–21, 2020.

Our understandings of death come with long and complex histories, shaped by culture, place, time, power, and identities. Historical analysis allows us to better understand the paths that have led to the recent move toward “death positivity,” and the popularity of death doulas, “death cafes,” alternative and ecological burial solutions, and new understandings of grief. The interdisciplinary and rapidly growing field of Death Studies raises awareness about how we die and mourn, and the ways social factors – class, migrant background, and gender, among them – can result in unequal access to “good death” in many countries and communities today. This International Symposium seeks to delve into the many varied and interwoven Histories of Death to further explore the traditions, ideologies, and institutions that shape our experiences with death.

Death sets people into action, caring for the dying, the deceased, and the grieving in ways that range from the intimate to the professional. The Histories of Death Symposium invites researchers to share their work and engage in dialogue about the different ways people have approached dying, death, and mourning from everyday, cultural, and structural perspectives. The symposium calls for papers, posters, and creative works that may analyze:

  • the social and everyday histories of death
  • histories of death in the context of migration(s)
  • narratives and/or life writing of death and mourning
  • histories of emotion and mourning
  • sensory and corporeal histories of death and mourning
  • childhood and family histories of death
  • health, gerontological, and palliative care histories
  • art and craftwork in histories of death
  • methods and ethics for the study of death in history

Proposals across times and places are welcome. Though the focus is on death and mourning in historical contexts, the symposium is particularly interested in exploring inter/transdisciplinary approaches, and scholars from all backgrounds are welcome to participate.

Please email abstracts of 250 words, indicating whether you are proposing a paper presentation, poster presentations, or creative work, together with a max. 150-word bio, including name, institutional affiliation and position, and email address, to historiesofdeath@gmail.com by 15 August, 2019.

Information about registration, plenary speakers, travel, and accommodation will be posted shortly on the Symposium website.

The Symposium is hosted by the John Morton Center for North American Studies at the University of Turku’s Department of Philosophy, Political Science, and Contemporary History. The Symposium in funded by the Academy of Finland.

CFP 2020 GMS conference: Gender, Science, and the “Natural World”

The 2020 Gender and Medieval Studies conference, ‘Gender, Science, and the “Natural World”‘ will be held at Swansea University on 6th to 8th January 2020. 

Two contrasting interpretations of human creation – the Aristotelian conception of the ‘natural’ default of life as male, and Hildegard of Bingen’s conception of life as a feminized process of natality and viriditas (‘greening’) – subscribe in different ways to an ancient and medieval worldview that prioritises a God-given schematic order with the human at its centre. For Aristotle (d. 322 BCE), however, ‘Females are weaker and colder in their nature (than males) and we should look upon the female state as being as it were a deformity’ (On the Generation of Animals 4:3); whereas for Hildegard (d. 1179) the natural world presents as a dynamic, God-given revelation of natality in its greenness, unfolding and flourishing: ‘By the secret design of the Supernatural Creator . . . the infant in the maternal womb receives a spirit, and shows by the movements of its body that it lives, just as the earth opens and brings forth the flowers of its use when the dew falls on it’ (Scivias, I.iv). This conference will interrogate such gendered configurations of the ‘natural’ world in the medieval imaginary and the influence of scientific and medical ideas upon understandings of the universe.

We seek papers engaging with such ideas from a range of disciplines and intersectional approaches, encompassing, for example, history, literature, medicine, theology, science, politics, archaeology, medical humanities, music, and art. The conference will explore the diverse ways in which medieval writers, artists and other thinkers respond to apparently hegemonic schemas of ‘science’ and ‘nature’ during the Middle Ages. How is ‘nature’ conceptualised? In what ways are scientific and philosophical systems upheld and subverted? What occurs when such models are inflected by gender, race, differently-abled bodies or queered? What might be figured as unnatural, and how is such a notion connected to gender, power and desire? How is the ‘natural’ world conducive or inconducive to bodily or spiritual health? And how do human and non-human bodies align or jar within this schema? Recently, Donna Haraway has argued that the Greek idea of the Chthulucene – a ‘timeplace’ of the now and new beginnings, but which also imbricates remembrance and the what-might-yet-be – offers understanding of a diachronic entanglement of all earthly existents as deeply connected ‘mixed assemblages’ (‘Making Kin’, 2015). In examining the order and disorder of the medieval world from a range of intersectional perspectives, like Haraway, we will ask what is at stake for our understanding of the earth, the human, in the then and the now.

Proposals for papers might engage with, but are not limited to:

  • Scientific understandings of the natural world
  • Scientific explanations of the gendered human body
  • The relationship between the human and non-human
  • Semioses of the human position in the medieval universe and the ways that people self-conceptualised
  • Order / disorder / queerness / monstrosity
  • Medieval medicine and its connection to the ‘natural’ world
  • The music of the spheres
  • The medieval garden and its heterotopic spaces
  • Discourses of flourishing and atrophy
  • Theologies of ‘nature’ and the ‘natural’
  • The interrelation of medicine and religion

We are now calling for proposals of 300 words, from scholars at any stage of study or career, for:

  • Standard 20-minute papers;
  • Position-paper sessions (90-minutes) with up to 7 participants;
  • Roundtable sessions (90-minutes) with up to 5 participants;
  • Postgraduate research posters for a competition (the winner will receive free GMS registration for the 2021 conference. The poster will be published on the website)

Contributions engaging with a range of theoretical approaches are particularly welcome.

Abstracts should be sent to Laura Kalas Williams (l.e.williams@swansea.ac.uk) by 31 July 2019.

http://medievalgender.co.uk/2020-swansea/

Employment: Director, Monash Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies

Monash University in Melbourne, Australia is seeking to appoint a Professor or Associate Professor to build upon its longstanding research strengths in Medieval and Renaissance history and to position the Monash Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CMRS) as a global leader in these fields. This teaching and research position offers an opportunity to build research collaborations both within Australia and internationally, and to use innovative teaching practices to extend the well-established cohort of undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The Monash Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CMRS) was established in 2012 and has grown rapidly to be one of the most dynamic and successful centres for the study of pre-modern European history in Australia. The Centre is located at Monash Clayton campus and uses the Monash University Prato Centre in Italy to offer several of its undergraduate units in intensive mode and for an annual postgraduate conference.

The successful applicant will be appointed at the level and appointment type appropriate to their qualifications, experience and in accordance with the relevant classification standards.

This role is a full-time position; however, flexible working arrangements may be negotiated.

For further information please see the Monash University website: http://careers.pageuppeople.com/513/cw/en/job/591770/associate-professorprofessor-of-medieval-renaissance-or-early-modern-history 

Closing Date: Tuesday 25 June 2019, 11:55 pm AEST

CFP Nihil Obstat: Reading and Circulation of Texts After Censorship

Paper proposals are invited for the conference Nihil Obstat: Reading and Circulation of Texts After Censorship, to be held at NYU Global Studies Center, Prague, 17-19 October 2019.

Literary scholars, sociologists, and historians have long explored the processes and ideology of censorship as well as the histories of the censors themselves. Pre-publication censorship practices and the institutions of church and state that foster them have dominated the field of study. Fewer efforts have taken texts after the fact of censorship or have detailed their further intellectual, cultural, and social trajectories. But as Deleuze wrote in Negotiations (1995), “Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves, but rather force them to express themselves.” While censorship takes various forms, many of them violent, it has tended toward failure, and historically the experience of censorship amongst groups as disparate as 17th century Puritans and 20th century Lithuanian poets is often deeply instructive in the means of subversion, publication, and dissemination. Censorship has informed collecting practices, as with Thomas James, who used the Catholic Index Librorum Prohibitorum to dictate the acquisitions policy of the Bodleian library from the late 16th century onward. Censorship creates new relationships between people and places because it is enforced differently from country to country, even from building to building; for example, in 1984 when the police raided Gay’s the Word bookshop in London to confiscate “obscene” imported books by Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams, Kate Millet, and Jean-Paul Sartre, the same titles remained available for loan at Senate House Library a few streets away, and UK publishers continued to publish the same authors unpunished. In the spirit of these examples, this conference seeks to foster an interdisciplinary conversation broaching a larger number of underexplored issues that begin only after the moment of censorship—the excess of argument, collaboration, revision, and in many cases, creative thinking, that are given shape by the experience of suppression.

We are pleased to announce that Hannah Marcus (History of Science, Harvard University) and Gisèle Sapiro (Sociology, Centre national de la recherche scientifique / École des hautes études en sciences sociales) will deliver respective keynote addresses each evening of the conference

This conference aims to be as broad as possible in its geographical, historical, and disciplinary range. The organizers welcome applications from anthropologists, bibliographers, classics scholars, comparative literature scholars, gender studies scholars, historians, philosophers, sociologists, and those within allied fields, including library and information sciences and the publishing industry. The working language of the conference will be English, but participants are naturally encouraged to present research completed in any language(s). The goal of the conference will be to publish the proceedings in a collective volume.

Applications should consist of a title, three-hundred word proposal, and one-page CV, due on 31 May, 2019. Accommodations will be available for participants and some funds may be possible for travel assistance within continental Europe.

Possible topics include:

– The reception history of expurgated, bowderlized, and censored texts
– The social history of reading censored and samizdat editions
– The impact of ‘market censorship’ on the rise of small, independent or clandestine publishing establishments.
– Religious communities formed around mutual practices of censorship
– The history of translation vis-à-vis censored texts
– Publishing within colonized spaces
– Canonical texts’ reception vis-à-vis censored editions
– Strategies for circumventing censorship, i.e. scribal publication and xerography
– Scientific and medical pedagogical traditions employing censored texts
– Teaching censored texts: period pedagogy and teaching practices today
– The contingencies of space and geography in censorship practices and the international circulation of censored texts
– ‘Asymmetric’ publication or the coordination of censored and uncensored editions
– The changing status of texts from uncensored to censors, and the inconsistent enforcement of banned items
– Textual histories of self-censored texts and later full republication
– Reversing censorship
– Bibliographical challenges in book description
– Publishing, marketing, and openly advertising censored texts
– Hermeneutic and exegetical concerns facing censored or expurgated texts
– Classical scholarship built upon expurgated texts and embedded polemical citations

In order to apply, please send the materials detailed above to Brooke Palmieri and John Raimo by 31 May, 2019: bspalmieri@gmail.com and john.raimo@nyu.edu.

CFP Das Mittelalter special issue

The editors invite proposals for a special issue of the peer reviewed journal Das Mittelalter: “Small Things of Greater Importance: Exploring the Sensory Relationship of Medieval People and Objects”

While the study of material culture is longstanding, the dynamic sensorial relationship of objects and people is a still emerging field. Research inspired by the material turn has acknowledged that especially small things, no bigger than one’s hand, have a particular agency: they played special roles in people’s lives. A miniature scale enhances objects’ potency: it forges and activates personal connections between items and their owners or users. Small objects, such as prayer nuts, spindle whorls or coins, differ from larger scale items, such as shrines, altars, or chests, because they offer an alternate experience. Small items are usually portable and often have an intimate relationship with the human body. For that reason, sensorial and emotional experiences were triggered by and connected to small artefacts.

An interdisciplinary dialogue addressing questions of how medieval people from different worlds engaged with small objects helps us to understand the entangled sensorial relationship of people and things. This does not have to be constrained by positive emotional experience but can capture the full spectrum of human feelings. This issue seeks new pathways to explore the social lives of small things; why they were curated, contemplated on, and often adored by medieval people through the sensorial lens of taste, sight, touch, smell, and sound. To this end we expressly welcome proposals by scholars from a variety of disciplines working on the European and Global Middle Ages.

It is our belief that studies of ‘small things of greater importance’ offer colleagues working in the disciplines from medieval art history, literature, philosophy and theology to archaeology, geography and medicine an opportunity to deepen discussions about how small things served as vehicles of sensory experiences:

Artefacts worn around the neck and held in one’s hand, like a late medieval intricately carved prayer nut with miniature scenes from the life of Christ that were meant to stimulate private devotion, could be activated through touch, movement, and view as well as through its materiality. The sensorial and material experiences enticed by objects also contributed to their emotional and memorial qualities.

Archaeologists have revealed how seemingly mundane items also mediated special relationships with the body. For example, spindle whorls, are understood to be embodied with knowledge of weaving but also with memories of exchange and gift-giving. Smaller personal items may reveal previously unknown things about identity including gender and age.

Literary historians have shown that in (vernacular) literature, miniature objects play important symbolic roles, as is exemplified by the oranges in the Persian story Yusuf u Zulaykha by Jami. The fruit described as colourful and flavourful but noted too is their stinging qualities. Things like these, whether in texts or as props in plays are often imbued with strong emotional feelings, and despite their small scale are crucial to storytelling.

Although not always writers’ primary concern, historical texts feature small scale objects, for example in connection to pilgrimage, miracles, and gift-giving. Book 1 of the Sachsenspiegel details household items (paraphernalia) inherited by women which were passed from mother to daughter. This gives insights into familial bonds and the important emphasis placed on smaller portable items in women’s lives. This is visible in wills where personal items also surface.

The senses, in particular sight, play an important role in writings of theologians and exegetes. It is through the eyes and ears that people can be spiritually instructed, as well as morally tempted. We can easily imagine the impact of large religious objects such as mosque lamps or church stained glass on spirituality, but how did small objects such as the nails used in the crucifixion of Christ play a role in the ideas of theologians and exegetes?

Medievalists interested in emotion may want to explore how the smaller images that wrap the pages of many manuscripts or form parts of larger textiles such as the coronation robe of Roger II of Sicily could reveal conceptions of self in the mind of the creators or moral musing such as the implied sexual assault scene hidden in the margins of the Bayeux Tapestry. Their expressivness captures unspoken medieval emotional experiences.

Spices such as cloves and saffron or dyes like indigo were small things that travelled long distances from Indonesia and India. Spices of course, had an immense sensorial impact; the smallest of things may have made the biggest of differences. They could be of interest to food or medical scholars.

650-word abstracts can be submitted until 31 May 2019. Please send your proposals to Karen Dempsey (K.Dempsey@reading.ac.uk) and Jitske Jasperse (jitske.jasperse@hu-berlin.de)

 

ANZAMEMS PATS: Approaching Medieval and Early Modern Conflict

Approaching Medieval and Early Modern Conflict
ANZAMEMS Postgraduate Advanced Training Seminar 2019
University of Queensland (St Lucia campus), 11–12 August 2019

Applications are invited from postgraduates and ECRs in Australia and New Zealand who would benefit from taking part in this year’s ANZAMEMS Postgraduate Advanced Training Seminar, which will focus on the study of medieval and early modern conflict.

Day One will be comprised of four methodological workshops:

Conflict in Crusade Narrative (Dr Beth Spacey);
Conflict in Monastic Narrative (Assoc. Prof. Kriston Rennie);
Conflict and Material Culture (Prof. Megan Cassidy-Welch); and
Conflict in Early Modern Print Culture (Dr Charlotte-Rose Millar).

The sessions will be followed by a roundtable discussion for broader reflection on the study of historical conflict. The workshops are designed to expose participants to a variety of approaches towards conflict in a historical setting, to enable engagement with ‘research in progress’, and to develop skills in textual, visual, and material cultural analysis. This is also an opportunity for participants working on cognate topics to connect with academics, students and ECRs from UQ and beyond.

On Day Two, participants will attend the one-day symposium at UQ, Landscapes of Conflict and Encounter in the Crusading World. This symposium brings together medievalists working on diverse areas of crusading activity in Europe, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean, to give papers on the relationship between landscape, conflict and encounter. By focusing in on a particular aspect of medieval conflict, this symposium will allow participants to build their own knowledge around the theme, while providing an opportunity to network with an international group of scholars in the field.

The costs of participants’ return airfare and accommodation will be covered by ANZAMEMS and the University of Queensland.

To apply, please send the following information to Prof. Megan Cassidy-Welch (m.cassidywelch@uq.edu.au) by 17 May 2019:

  • Your name, affiliation and status (i.e. currently enrolled MA/MPhil, PhD, or ECR within 5 years of completing a postgraduate degree);
  • A copy of your academic CV;
  • A c.300-word overview of your research, including reflection on how you might benefit from participation in this PATs;
  • Estimated cost of your return economy airfare to Brisbane.

Please direct any queries to m.cassidywelch@uq.edu.au .

CFP 2020 French Shakespeare Society Conference

The organisers invite paper proposals for the 2020 Société Française Shakespeare conference, Paris, Fondation Deutsch de la Meurthe, 9-11 January 2020. The conference theme is Shakespeare and Actors.

“All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players” (2.7.139-40), says Jaques in As You Like It, suggesting that playing is inherent to life itself. Throughout their dramatic production, Shakespeare and his contemporaries were keen on showcasing the omnipresence of actors while also stressing the instability of their status. As a theatrical practitioner himself, Shakespeare wrote primarily for his company and his rhythmic language was specifically designed for being projected from a stage. It is thus hardly a surprise to find so many metadramatic and metatheatrical allusions on the early modern stage, from the mechanicals in A Midsummer Night’s Dream to the travelling actors in Hamlet, instances of mise en abyme of the theatrical world abound, emphasising the motif of theatrum mundi. Together, they call for a reflection on the uncertain boundaries between stage and life, and on the material conditions surrounding the acting profession.

Early modern playwrights seldom missed an opportunity to play on the uncertainty generated by boy actors performing female parts, given women were excluded from the professional stage until the Restoration. While sometimes joking on the male actors’ cross-dressing, they also subtly rely on the permeability of gendered identities in the theatre to reconfigure desire. “Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness, / Wherein the pregnant enemy does much,” young Viola cries out disguised as a page in Twelfth Night. If the disguise complicates identities and enmeshes the heroine in a love tangle, however, it also conjures up hitherto unknown feelings in her and helps enact what Stephen Greenblatt called “self-fashioning,” namely the shaping of one’s social and sexual identities.

Yet, dramatists did not always judge actors kindly, for their means of livelihood bore the mark of infamy, contrary to poets. In Macbeth, Shakespeare emphasises the frailty of the “poor player, / Who struts and frets his hour upon the stage, / And then is heard no more” (5.5.24-26) and he reminds us of the ephemeral quality of performance. In Hamlet, he makes fun of those who overplay or strive to “bellow” their cues (3.2.2), and finds fault with clowns who improvise at the expense of the playtext. He portrays mediocre, imperfect actors overwhelmed by stage fright, who forget their lines and spoil the part, as in Sonnet 23. We know today that a Renaissance actor’s ability to learn his lines was exceptional. Grammar school education particularly cultivated this skill in children from an early age by making them learn by heart whole segments from the classics. Acting styles were steeped in such rhetoric. Speech acts and passions that were played out on stage were associated with a particular rhetorical form and style, providing a whole repertory of speech codes playwrights used and subverted.

While early modern playwrights nowhere claimed that the most competent actor is the one who best keeps his temper, as Diderot later would in France, some of their characters seem to be born actors in full control of the arts of manipulation and illusion. They are hypocrites in the everyday sense as well as the etymological sense of the term — from the Greek term, ὑποκριτής, hupokritếs, which means “stage actor” or “one who recites”.

In spite of the players’ imperfections at which Shakespeare and his contemporaries delighted in poking fun, showing the play’s seams, playwrights also defended those who brought their own worlds to the stage. Actors certainly needed their support at a time when Puritans were beginning to make themselves heard, threatening the profession. In An Apology for Actors (1612), Thomas Heywood praised the dignity of actors in response to the attacks of such critics as John Northbrooke or Stephen Gosson. An actor had to be multi-talented. He had to memorize, play, sing, dance, improvise, and adjust to the changing material conditions of the stage. Despite very limited rehearsal time, early modern actors were able to produce meaning almost instinctively, and a playwright’s success ultimately depended on the players’ ability to perform their plays. Even today, it is mostly up to actors to update the potentialities of the Shakespearean text and to make characters from the past our contemporaries. French actor Denis Podalydès claims that “Shakespeare is every actor’s dream” (“Shakespeare Album,” La Pléiade, Gallimard, 2016). Playing early modern parts allows actors today to reflect on their own acting style. The actor and his text were indeed front and center in the creative process, in the writing, directing and stage business of early modern companies, which constantly needed to adapt to the changing material conditions of the stage. Such practices may help today’s theatrical practitioners explore the multiple possibilities that are offered to them as they move from page to stage, from collaborative writing to collaborative performance.

This conference aims to bring together early modern scholars, theatre historians, actors, directors and filmmakers to discuss the ways in which early modern drama still enriches our understanding of the actor’s profession and place today in a world which sometimes seems to be nothing but a stage.

Possible topics may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • The actors’ professionalisation in early modern drama
  • Amateur practices in the early modern period and today
  • The material conditions and organisation of theatrical companies
  • The actors’ apprenticeship
  • The versatility of the actors who performed in public, private, court, and itinerant theatrical forms
  • The praise and condemnation of histrionic arts
  • Protection and patronage circuits
  • The place of the comedy actor in society
  • The rhetorical practices of actors on stage
  • Declamation, voice and gestures
  • The mise en abyme of performance and actor figures in early modern plays
  • Historions and jesters in early modern plays
  • Duplicitous and hypocritical characters in early modern plays
  • Great Shakespearean actors, from the 16th century to the present day
  • The experience of acting an early modern part
  • Early modern playwrights and (collaborative) stage writing
  • The representation of Shakespearean actors in popular culture

Scientific committee

Roberta Barker (Dalhousie University), Yan Brailowsky (Université Paris Nanterre, Société Française Shakespeare), Sophie Chiari (Université Clermont Auvergne), Anne-Valérie Dulac (Sorbonne Université), Sarah Hatchuel (Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, Société Française Shakespeare), Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3), Ladan Niayesh (Université Paris-Diderot), Laetitia Sansonetti (Université Paris Nanterre), Chantal Schütz (École Polytechnique, Société Française Shakespeare), Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin (Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, Société Française Shakespeare)

Submission procedure

Please send your proposals to contact@societefrancaiseshakespeare.org by 15 May 2019, with a title, an abstract (between 500 and 800 words) and a brief biographical notice. A few words in the abstract should explain in what way(s) your paper intends to address the topic of the conference.

Letters of acceptance will be sent by May 30, 2019. Selected papers are expected to be submitted for publication in the weeks following the conference for our peer-reviewed online series available here: https://journals.openedition.org/shakespeare/32. We accept only proposals which have not been published previously; however, papers initially published by the Société Française Shakespeare may be submitted for publication elsewhere not earlier than 3 months after publication in our online series.