CALL FOR PAPERS: Race, Nation and Empire on the Victorian Popular Stage.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Race, Nation and Empire on the Victorian Popular Stage.

This conference will be the third in a series of three organised as part of our AHRC-funded project on the ‘Cultural History of English Pantomime, 1837-1902’.

A number of studies, most recent of which is Marty Gould’s Nineteenth-Century Theatre and the Imperial Ideal, have demonstrated ways in which Victorian theatres served as significant sites for the ‘imperial encounter’. Across a variety of theatrical forms, particularly the non-canonical stage, the stage provided a series of visual narratives in which audiences were presented the landscapes, architecture, peoples, and religions of colonised territories. Moreover, theatre often served as a site for propaganda, educating and enthusing audiences about Britain’s vast empire.

On the one hand, we seek papers exploring theatrical representations of the landscapes, religions and peoples Britons encountered as part of their imperial project. We are interested especially in discussing the ways in which popular entertainments brought the empire ‘home’ and how this affected patterns of popular culture, including the gendering of public imperial discourse, the formation of racial attitudes and the construction of national identities. Given recent scholarship on provincial theatre, we especially welcome proposals which investigate connections between the ‘local’ and the imperial and the role of performance cultures in promoting civic and municipal identities.

On the other hand, proposals are sought which engage the two-way traffic of imperialism: that is, how were Britons and their colonial project represented in overseas sites, both by Britons abroad and those people and landscapes who became the subject of the colonial gaze.

Particularly welcome are proposals which engage the following general themes and areas for exploration:

* The ‘image’ of empire: visual representations in performance (corporeal enactment; the movement of bodies and artefacts; costumes; props; set design and scene painting; etc) and print (playbills; posters; theatricalisation of visual metaphor in periodicals, literary and early film and radio culture)

* Variations and hybridisation of performance culture: intertextual crossovers between sites of representation (pantomime, melodrama, lantern shows, dioramas, minstrelsy, exhibitions, festivals, circus, zoos, etc)

* Performance cultures of celebrity, commemoration and exploration: representation of the military and the navy; of warfare, settlement and conquest; of adventure stories and the patriotic impulse

* Traffic – the mediation of cultural contact zones on the stage: touring companies; dynastic families; performance sites in the colonies; negotiation/subversion of dominant norms through performance.

* Race, Science and Identity: peripheral, metropolitan, national and global formations of culture and identity; stage engagements with evolutionary science and anthropology; gendering of theatrical discourse.

The deadline for proposals for 20 minute papers, up to but not exceeding 300 words, should be sent to Peter Yeandle (p.yeandle(at)Lancaster.ac.uk) by no later than 23 March 2012.

Keynote Speaker: John MacKenzie

Other confirmed speakers:
* Jeffrey Richards (Lancaster): Drury Lane – epitome of Empire?
* Kate Newey (Birmingham): Theatrical Utopias
* Marty Gould (South Florida): The Crusoe Tradition/ Anglo-African cultural exchange
* Jim Davis (Warwick): Dynastic theatrical families
* Veronica Kelly (Queensland): Australian star actors and pantomime
* Catherine Hail (V&A museum): W.S. Gilbert and the question of patriotism
* Ross Forman (Warwick): Exhibitions and Re-enactment
* Anne Witchard (Westminster): Representations of the Chinese on stage
* Joanne Robinson (Nottingham):Seeing the world from the provinces
* Marah Gubar (Pittsburgh): Transatlantic children’s touring companies
* Stuart Currie (Worcester): Mid-century warfare on stage: set painting/scenography
* Simon Sladen (Winchester): Race-relations and 20thC pantomime’s Victorianism
* Veronica Kelly (Queensland): Australia

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