Theatre on the Move in Times of Conflict (1750-1850) - Call for Papers

Conference CFP: Theatre on the Move in Times of Conflict (1750-1850)

University of Oxford, Magdalen College, 18-19 September 2019

This conference seeks to explore the movement of theatre across linguistic, cultural, and national boundaries between 1750 and 1850, with a special focus on conflict as a driver of such movement. Bookended by the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763) – seen by some scholars as the first truly global conflict – and the Crimean War (1853–1856), this century was one of continuous hostilities, from international struggles to colonial campaigns, revolutions to civil wars. These conflicts caused significant displacement of people, fuelling the movement of ideas, technologies, writers, artists, and performers. As a consequence, warfare was a recurring feature of contemporary life, whether an individual was on the move (either mobilised or displaced), had loved ones involved in campaigns, or read about such conflicts in the burgeoning newspaper press. All this radically transformed the public sphere and thus the perception of different cultures. Yet, despite burgeoning interest in cultural transfer, transnationalism, and circulation in the theatre scholars have been less keen to study the transformation caused by theatrical encounter that occurred during, and often because of, conflict and war.

This conference aims to address this lacuna by asking 1) how does conflict enable (or force) encounters and exchanges between theatrical cultures and 2) how do such encounters and exchanges affect theatrical milieus and their development? We are interested in encounters shaped by the circulation of materials (theatre texts, music, instruments, stage technology, criticism, etc.); people (migrant artists, armies and their bands, prisoners of war, etc.); ideas and knowledge; and the impact of these circulations on established theatrical milieus. We also question the centrality of ‘nation state’ in studies of theatrical dissemination of this period. Even though conflicts such as the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars are typically considered crucial to the establishment of European ‘nationalisms’, conceptions of the ‘nation’ were still being developed at this time and thus continuously in flux. Therefore, we propose to adopt a broader purview and grapple with issues of encounter between cultures as reflected through class, rank, faith, language, ethnicity, and location.

We understand theatre in a broad sense, from all elements involved in its production and circulation (such as people, material, technology, knowledge, criticism etc.) to the different layers of performance (text, music, image, dance, performance, staging). In terms of genre, this includes a wide variety from opera, melodrama, and vaudeville, to spoken tragedy and comedy and so on. Possible papers might address:

  • Networks, patterns, and the technologies of circulation (of theatrical works, of artists, or of audiences)
  • Theatre as a locus of identity formation, and identity formation as ‘in between’ cultures (cf. Homi Bhabha)
  • Representing ‘national traditions,’ nationalism, and national identities in times of war
  • The impact of exile and émigré communities on theatrical production
  • Productions by military personnel
  • The impact of military presence on theatrical production
  • Translations and adaptations of theatrical works
  • War, migration, and the understanding of theatrical cosmopolitanism
  • Issues of censorship and propaganda
  • Methodological issues in studying the impact of conflict on movement of theatre (for instance, Michael Werner and Bénédicte Zimmerman’s notion of ‘intercrossing’)

The programme committee welcomes proposals for individual papers (20 minutes). Please send an abstract (200-250 words) and a short biographical note (ca. 100 words) as Word documents along with your name, affiliation, and any audio, visual, or other needs for the presentation to Annelies Andries (University of Oxford, Magdalen College) and Clare Siviter (University of Bristol) at [email protected]

The deadline for submissions is 3 June 2019. Acceptance notifications will be sent mid-June 2019. For more information on the conference see

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