Delilah Bermudez Brataas (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
Anna Kowalcze-Pawlik (Wyższa Szkoła Europejska, Kraków, Poland)
The European Shakespeare Research Association (ESRA) is holding their 2017 Conference: Shakespeare and European Theatrical Cultures: AnAtomizing Text and Stage on 27 – 30 July 2017 at University of Gdańsk and The Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre, Poland.
Jill Dolan writes in Utopia in Performance (2010) that theatre potentially allows for utopian performatives, i.e. those moments in the performance that open up the audience to “a hopeful feeling of what the world might be like if every moment of our lives were as emotionally voluminous, generous, aesthetically striking and intersubjectively tense” (4) and “allow fleeting contact with a utopia not stabilized by its own finished perfection […] but a utopia always in process, always only partially grasped, as it disappears before us around the corners of narrative and social experience”(6). A utopian performative in this context is a moment of empowerment that gestures towards a vision of a better reality and reveals an ethical dimension of the play that has a potential transformative, if not political impact. This seminar takes this proposition further, to investigate the presence of the utopian impulse in Shakespeare’s works in print and on stage. Whether that presence emerges as the influence of classical ideal spaces, the bourgeoning potential of the new world as a utopia, or the political ideologies inspired by Thomas More’s Utopia (1516) at the start of the Renaissance in England, visions of utopia appear in Shakespeare’s plays, to be further elaborated on, negotiated and modified in performance that can amplify the utopian impulse in its own utopian performative, or, alternatively, engage it in a dystopian fashion.
We seek panel papers that discuss the utopian impulse in Shakespeare’s works in print and on stage, and which in particular:
- address “utopian performatives” in Shakespeare in performance
- consider how Shakespeare’s works contributed to the development of utopia as a genre and/or the impact of utopian literature and criticism on Shakespeare in performance
- analyse the way in which Shakespeare’s idealized presence as international social and cultural icon influence our contemporary understanding of utopian literature
- examine the ways in which the utopian impulse has been created, staged and/or critically engaged in theatrical productions across the centuries and continents.