Migrations in American Drama and Theater: 5th International Conference on American Drama and Theater
Université de Lorraine, Nancy, France, 4-6 June 2018
Deadline for porposals: 15 September 2017
Working in partnership with the American Theater and Drama Society (ATDS) and the Spanish universities of Cádiz, Sevilla, and Madrid Autónoma, the research group I.D.E.A. (“Théories et pratiques de l’interdisciplinarité dans les études anglophones”) and the Université de Lorraine are announcing a call for papers for the conference “Migrations in American Drama and Theater” to be held in Nancy, France, from 4 to 6 June 2018.
This 5th International Conference on American Drama and Theater will be dedicated to the study of migrations, understood in a broad sense. The four previous conferences were held in Málaga, 2000; Málaga, 2004; Cádiz, 2009; and Sevilla, 2012; topics included violence, plays and players, politics, and the romance of the theater.
Confirmed keynote speakers include:
- John Patrick Shanley, American playwright, screenwriter, and theater and film director. His play Doubt: A Parable won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2005 Tony Award for Best Play. He won the 1988 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his film Moonstruck.
- John Guare, American playwright, best known as the author of The House of Blue Leaves, Six Degrees of Separation, Landscape of the Body, and A Free Man of Color, which was nominated for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize. He is the recipient of a Tony Award, as well as several Drama Desk, Obie, and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards.
- Lee Breuer, American playwright, theater director, academic, educator, film maker, poet and lyricist. Founding co-artistic director of Mabou Mines Theater Company, Breuer directed the celebrated 2011 production of Un tramway nommé Désir (A Streetcar Named Desire), the first foreign play produced at the illustrious Comédie Française in Paris.
- Maude Mitchell, American actress and producer, who specializes in fresh interpretations of classics and development of new plays, and worked alongside Breuer in Un tramway nommé Désir as dramaturg. Best known for her performance as Nora in Mabou Mines’ critically acclaimed production of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, which toured internationally for 8 years and earned her an Obie Award as Best Actress.
- Dr. Annette Saddik, professor and scholar of American drama and theater, City University of New York. She has published numerous articles and four books on American drama: Tennessee Williams and the Theatre of Excess: The Strange, The Crazed, The Queer (2015); The Traveling Companion and Other Plays (2008); Contemporary American Drama (2007); and The Politics of Reputation: The Critical Reception of Tennessee Williams’ Later Plays (1999). Dr. Saddik lectures regularly at Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, and serves as a judge for the Lucille Lortel Theater Awards in New York.
- Dr. Sue Abbotson, British born professor and scholar of American drama and theater. Former President of the Arthur Miller Society, Abbotson currently serves on their board and is Performance Editor for the Arthur Miller Journal. She has authored countless articles and chapters on a wide range of other American playwrights, and is also a creative writer herself. Among her many books are Critical Companion to Arthur Miller (2007) and Thematic Guide to Modern Drama (2003). Forthcoming is the long-awaited Modern American Drama: Playwriting in the 1950s (Methuen, 2016).
The impulse to cross geographical barriers and transgress boundaries, of whatever kind, traverses the history of mankind. Such processes often turn out traumatic and painful, however ultimately beneficial or rewarding. Motivations may be economic, political, or just sentimental. But fleeing the (literal or figurative) homeland (or, in today’s parlance, one’s comfort zone) in search of safety, a livelihood, happiness, novelty, change, self-realization or prosperity is bound, in most cases, to exert psychological pressure and involve a price. For the scholar, such processes whereby human communities or individuals are confronted by the new and the alien, often by the other in oneself, are fascinating to study and probe. Cross-hybridization between cultures and values has often resulted in new ways of looking at and making sense of reality. The friction and strife such processes bring with them are similarly pertinent areas of scholarly interest and inquiry.
Few countries have been more dependent upon migrations, understood in a broad sense, than the US. Not only is a great part of its population descended from migrants (all of it if we understand migrations in a wider sense, as native peoples have had to migrate not only geographically but culturally from ancient practices to largely alien notions of progress and modernity), but the country has been predicated upon geographical and social mobility, in itself a kind of migration. Debates on the advantages, if any, of migrations, as well as the alleged danger of disenfranchisement for the receiving population, the advisability of “contamination” by foreign values, or competition from abroad, are common. Obviously, there has never been a time in the history of the country where some kind of wall has not been deemed advisable, and not only the kind endorsed by the protagonists of The Fantasticks, a musical which became an icon of American theatrical culture precisely on account of its adamant refusal to the oft-suggested migration to Broadway.
Migration here is understood as a trope that implies change, translation, re-situation or re-location, adaptation, transferral, as well as the embracement of the new. When playwrights explore new themes, new theatrical styles or new dramatic voices, they become migrants, often encountering resistance and feeling unwelcome, which they brave in search of artistic fulfilment, new audiences, or merely profit. Without stylistic migrations, there would have been no evolution in the dramatic art: no Eugene O’Neill, no Susan Glaspell, no Thornton Wilder, no Living Theater, no Sam Shepard, no Broadway musicals. Even migrations across media (from film to stage or stage to film, from novel to play or play to musical) or from one country to another (European influences on American playwrights, the impact of US drama and theater abroad) are areas of research especially encouraged.
Other possible areas for research and reflection include (but are not limited to):
- Theatrical migrations understood both literally and figuratively. Real migrations and migrations as a trope.
- Stylistic migrations and cross-hybridization between formats.
- Transnational studies of American drama.
- Foreign playwrights in America and hyphenated American playwrights. Multiculturalism as migration.
- US drama abroad and foreign drama in the US. The migration of cultures on stage.
- World realities on the US stage. America on the world’s stage.
- Mainstream playwrights migrating to the fringe. Fringe playwrights reaching the mainstream. Crossings between theatrical milieus.
- Broadway migrating from Broadway. The emergence of Off and Off-Off Broadway and the regional theater movement.
- Bodies, trauma, gender, and identity. Migrations from one’s sense of self and the corporeality of migrations.
- Intertextuality, transmedia, and intercultural exchanges. Migrating texts.
As we embrace a more international model for these conferences, and will hold the first of them outside of Spain, we are ourselves becoming migrants, and our destination, Nancy, is the perfect venue for such a conference. Nancy, with its various World Heritage sites, is at the heart of a historically disputed area in Europe, and has often migrated across countries and cultures. Ever since 1963, the Nancy festival has been not only in the avant-garde of theater festivals in Europe, but has welcomed groups and professionals from all countries to explore new territories, spearheading theatrical migrations, new languages, and all kinds of hybridities.
To submit either a paper, a roundtable discussion, or an already organized panel, please send abstracts of 300 words and a brief CV to Dr. Josefa Fernandez Martin (email@example.com) by 15 September 2017.
For updated information on the conference (travel, accommodation, participation fees, etc.), please visit https://idea-udl.org/migrations/.
(posted 15 February 2017)
War Memories: Celebrations, Reconstructions, Representations, War narratives in the English-speaking world (18th to the 21st century)
Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston, Ontario, 12-14 June 2018
Deadline for proposals: 15 October 2017
Conference website: https://warmem2018.sciencesconf.org/resource/page/id/3
An initiative with roots stemming from the “Anglophonie: Communautés, Écritures” Laboratory of the University Rennes 2 (ACE, France) and the Royal Military College of Canada (Kingston), the War Memories research initiative is pleased to announce that the momentum will carry-on to the third biennial conference, set to take place in June 2018. The third gathering will build upon the foundations set forth by discussions during the previous conferences.
The first conference was organized in conjunction with the events surrounding the 100th anniversary of the First World War, and served as a continuity of the seminal symposium in May 2010 organized in collaboration with the Caen Memorial at the University of Caen-Basse Normandie. Following the international symposium in June 2014 at the University Rennes 2, collaborative work emerged which discussed media attention, and the spectacularization, interpretation and re-writing of the events surrounding the wars. The second gathering was held in 2016 at the University of Paris-Diderot, with focused discussions regarding the identification of memories with a special attention to the Second World War, locations of memory spaces and media attention. The collaborative work highlighting these discussions is currently being prepared.
The third gathering will be held in Jun 2018 at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. This symposium will encourage discussions surrounding the symbols used to represent the physical and moral injuries endured by individuals as a result of war. The way different conflicts define, tailor, and possibly even distort military culture through societies and through the ages will also be discussed.
One of the major advances of modern times is illuminated by the literary representations heightened by the experiences and consequences of war, the terror produced by the conflicts and the dehumanization that cannot be disassociated with armed conflicts. Heart of Darkness by Conrad, Feu by Barbuse, or even Orages d’acier by Jünger, are all milestone pieces that initiate us to the representations of the marks these resonances make on contemporary societies’ imagination, to the point where it becomes normal for many of these representations to be referenced when discussing the violence that was endured by individuals. Before the commemorations of military glory, the symbols and representations used in literature to convey the impact of war involved trauma and injuries; artistic and semantic pieces of literature were pushed away in order to avoid expressing and representing the main themes for modern wars. It is the tension between the indescribable experiences and the outrageous representations that will be discussed as the primary topic of this symposium.
It is the movement towards honorable commemorations (Born on the 4th of July by Stone, Les Fragments d’Antonin by Le Bomin, etc.) and the representation of the lack of care that will become the second branch of topics to be discussed during the symposium. The dehumanization of suffering goes beyond the discussion of denunciation, because the act of commemoration, even if done with honor, is in itself a celebration. Therefore, the representation of the young dismembered or dislocated body becomes a manifestation of the glory of handicaps; a broken spirit, an occasion to celebrate the survival or combat. Thus, the wars of the past and present become the objects of new representations; having lived through violence becomes fully expressed through its representation of decrepitude. Moreover, the representations of the wars of the past is molding the way todays’ actors of war are portraying their testimonies or other representations of their own experiences.
Our work may fall under many themes, but will revolve around the following ideas:
- War narratives and features on literature (theater, novels, poetry, etc.)
- Visual, television, film (fiction and non-fiction), musical, media and artistic representations of war
- Injuries, trauma, handicaps associated with the phenomenon’s of war and terrorism (testimonies of soldiers, lives of the survivors, social and political charges, management of handicaps and reintegration into society, …)
- Memories, war memories, and memory space and locations (monuments, ceremonies, history books, questions about personal and collective identity during times of war and the process of recalling and commemoration); wars and memories of war surrounding the experiences of minorities and/or the aboriginal people (Gurkhas, Aboriginal of North America or Australia, Maoris, etc.) and of Non-English speaking nation (Afrikaners, etc.) and their participation in word conflicts.
Contacts: Stéphanie Bélanger, Renée Dickason, Michel Prum, Florence Binard, Delphine Letort and Gilles Teulié. For contact details, please visit the Contact Us page.
Please submit a 250-word abstract along with a 200-word bio directly through this website before October 15th, 2017. You will need to create an account (near top right of page), then fill the submission forms under My Space > Submissions.
(posted 12 July 2017)
Jean Rhys: Transmission Lines / Lignes de transmission
Paris Sorbonne University, France, 21-23 June 2018
Deadline for proposals: 1 June 2017
Jean Rhys’s recognition as a major author came late, almost accidentally so, and not without a number of misunderstandings, misfires and sidesteps; lines of transmission between her work and contemporary readers now appear certain if erratic, unpredictable, and sometimes discontinuous. Her status within the various lineages of modernist and Caribbean fiction is doubly problematized by Rhys’s position as a woman, and as one of the last members of the white creole society. Jean Rhys’s position upon the literary map of the 20th century remains unstable, even after Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), which constituted a turning point in the critical rediscovery of her earlier work. She shunned public exposure and yet, desperately sought acknowledgement by her own peers; she stood away from the modernist circles of Montparnasse and yet, explored a radically avant-garde writing, which retrospectively makes her rank among them.
This conference wishes to interrogate the twists and paradoxes of transmission, in its various, and often, in the case of Rhys, paradoxical, meanings; it will be placed under the sign of plurality and criss-crossing, including that between modernism and (post)colonialism. Indeed, her bridging the span between modernism and post-colonialism has made her an author studied separately by two currents of thought which we would like to reconnect towards a more hybrid reading along the transmission lines of the Caribbean/modernist rhi(ys)zome.
With Jean Rhys, transmission is precisely not teleological or testamentary. The modernist polyphony at the heart of her experimentations with form can be seen as an obstacle to transmission both technically and hermeneutically, while her always problematic authority places her in the marginalized position of the postcolonial author. Transmission comes up against the notion of inscription; it remains transient, fluid, and precarious. In order to encompass the modernist Rhys and the postcolonial ‘writer back’, we would welcome papers on Jean Rhys’s peculiar history of publications and critical reception, with the late scrutiny by postcolonial studies of an author only seriously acknowledged after The Empire Writes Back (1984).
This conference wishes to reassess the heritage of the first critical period largely dominated by an emphasis on the typology of the ‘Rhys woman’ and the victim paradigm: we invite papers examining the resistance to transmission as a process, the deconstruction always at work, the dead-ends and unease in the reading experience, the lines of flight in many directions. Our ultimate aim would be to create a moment of critical kairos by reconnecting the structuralist/modernist reading of the 1980s, and the poststructuralist/postcolonial Rhys of the 1990s: we propose to grasp those lines and allow them to travel farther, towards what is still there to read between the lines – of transmission.
Topics may include, but are not restricted to:
- moments of passages, dissemination, transfers and transitions, including between languages
- patterns of continuity/contiguity and leaps/gaps in texts that struggle against frames of all kinds
- the paradigm of memory and testimony, when the marginalized voices of the modernist city and the Empire were grappling with an irrevocable loss and resisting silencing
- the minimal resistance of female characters who do not recognise the masculine power structures relegating them to passivity
- the multiple lines of transmission drawn by Rhys’s letters, whose publication in 1984 corresponded to a landmark in her critical rediscovery
- reflections on (trans)mediation and generic hybridity
- the lines of literary filiation and influence of Rhys on contemporary authors
- resistance to transmission as an opposition to commodification, to systems of colonial trade and exchange
- the radio and its impact on the transcription of voices
We are contemplating publishing a selection of papers after the conference.
(posted 22 February 2017)