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Playing across languages: multilingual, transnational theater in early modern Europe

Posted By Kevin M. Chovanec, Thursday, May 4, 2017

In line with a wider transnational turn in literary studies, scholars of early modern theater have become increasingly interested in plays and players that traveled across political and linguistic borders. We are continuing to discover how travelling and mobility were central to the early modern theater, but already we have seen that this theater was a dynamic, hybrid space in which cultural exchange proved both lucrative and highly successful. This panel will further explore that success by focusing particularly on means of communication between players and audiences that did not always share a language: when English travelers performed in English to German-speaking audiences, for example, what strategies for identification and communication did they employ, and what surprising results stemmed from the linguistic incoherence? How were early modern players so often able to successfully negotiate foreign contexts and audiences? When an English play staged in London included multiple languages, how might this multilingualism imply to the audience national, ethnic, cultural, or religious difference or communion? What resources did the theater possess for communicating across linguistic divides? And how did the circulation of texts, players, and ‘theatergrams’ through these language contexts shape the early modern theater more generally?

Topics might include (though certainly are not limited to) the following: gestural language; multilingualism; circulation and adaptation; translation; dramatic spaces of cultural exchange; non-national identities; dumb shows; theater networks; music and performance; digital approaches (mapping, networking) investigating the travelers.

Please send a 150 word abstract and a brief CV (no more than 300 words, as specified by RSA) to Kevin Chovanec (chovanec@email.unc.edu) by May 31, 2017. 

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