Call for Papers
Tragedy and the Tragic Around 1800
40th Anniversary Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association
(NeMLA) Feb. 26-March 1, 2009 Hyatt Regency - Boston, Massachusetts
The decades before and after 1800 mark the apex of Germany’s tragic tradition. In these years critiques of French Neo-Classical drama joined reflection on the general category of the tragic to expand dramatic thought into the fields of philosophy, anthropology, physiology, and theology. Authors such as Lessing, Schiller, Kleist, and Hebbel are just a few of the many now canonical authors who in this period suddenly became actively invested in a reinvention of tragedy as a theatrical genre.
This revolution of tragedy and the tragic took place in the intertwined levels of theory and practice. Theoretically, questions of a national theater, of education through drama, and of morality on the stage dominated active debates in public letters, theoretical essays, and philosophical texts ranging from Lessing’s exchange with Mendelssohn and Nicolai to Hegel’s Aesthetics. Practically, the new tragedy attempted to empower the enlightened bourgeois subject, to enhance the dialogical quality of the stage, and to allow emotion to arouse the audience’s “Mitleid” as never before. While some dramas partially fulfilled ideals set forth by Lessing and other “Aufklärer,” others questioned these ideals in subtle or even in radical ways.
Many important scholars (from Walter Benjamin to Peter Szondi to Christopher Wild) have taken positions on the issue of tragedy around 1800. Such analyses show that this period is far more complex than the terms “Goethezeit” or “Enlightenment” might suggest. We hope this panel can explore the links between theoretical and practical changes in tragedy around 1800.
For instance, what is the role of physicality on stage in dramas of this period? Are there ways in which silence or language itself undermine the dialogic nature of tragedy? What questions are raised by the violence of tragedies? To what extent are courtroom ‘performance’ and tragic practice linked? What is the status of the witness in and of tragedy? What shifts take place in the dramatic representation of gender and sexuality in this period? How do hybrids of tragedy and comedy affect the status of tragedy?
Topics might include but are certainly not limited to:
Assessments of acting treatises and performance reviews.
New readings of canonical tragedies by Lessing, Kleist, Goethe, Schiller, Hebbel, etc.
Examinations of tragedies via the supplementary prefaces, postscripts, and letters that occasion their publication.
Arguments regarding the relevance of ancient Greek tragedies and Aristotle to German tragedies or theories of the tragic.
Connections between theories of the tragic, dramatic tragedies, philosophy, and other fields.
Please send a 300-word abstract in German or English and a one-paragraph biographical sketch to Pascale LaFountain ([log in to unmask]) and Jeff Champlin ([log in to unmask]). Hard copies may be sent to Pascale LaFountain, German Department, Barker Center 365, 12 Quincy St., Harvard University; Cambridge, MA 02138.
The submission deadline is September 15, 2008.
The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor: Megan McKinstry
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
Info available at: http://www.missouri.edu/~graswww/resources/gerlistserv.html