Habilitation Projects

Anke Charton  

Between practices and projections: new perspectives on Siglo de Oro theatre

In a contemporary climate where categories such as affect, nostalgia and contested facticity do gain popularity in considering history as a cultural practice, the imagination of a past 'Golden Age' and its subsequent evocations gain importance as a pattern of localizing identities in and as (historical) performance.
The project takes its trajectory from a double observation of Siglo de Oro theatre as, on the one hand, a performance practice both past and present, and as a cultural topos on the other hand: 'the' Siglo de Oro, coined as term only in retrospect, is omnipresent as cornerstone of Spanish cultural heritage in politics, academia and education, yet its canon theatre repertory figures less in performance than as a reference.
Investigating this divide of practice past and projection present, the focus of the study is two-fold: it examines the Siglo de Oro narrative as a site of staging national and cultural identity, addressing its positionality, and contrasts it with a look at performance practices of the 16th and 17th centuries, particularly in regards to their shifting in and out of a realm of a newly forming professional secular theatre against the larger backdrop of Iberian festival culture.
Siglo de Oro theatre, while a central field of studies within Spanish Philology, has received far less attention from a perspective of Performance Studies, which is the aim of this project. In addition to amplifying research on Early Modern dynamics of festival and theatre, it serves as a case study applicable to current paradigms of localizing the cultural self.

Silke Felber 

Travelling Gestures. 
Elfriede Jelinek’s Rewriting of Tragedies from a Transdisciplinary Perspective

In recent years, the research on Elfriede Jelinek, Austria’s sole recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, has developed into an almost independent area of German literary studies, but also of international theatre studies. It is all the more astonishing that intertextual and interstructural references to Attic tragedy, typical, almost without exception, of Jelinek’s theatre texts since Ein Sportstück (1999), have not yet been systematically analysed. The present project intends to fill this research gap and feed the results in the research on Jelinek, in the academic discourse on the so-called post-dramatic theatre (Lehmann) and in the current theoretical debate on the return of the tragic. The project draws on the premise that Jelinek’s rewriting of tragedies is based on a mode of disruption, inspired by montage and quotations, and can thus be conceived as gestural theatre. In line with Samuel Weber, who, making recourse to Walter Benjamin, claims that gestures cannot be realised, but only performed, it is assumed that Jelinek’s rewriting of tragedies is genuinely tied to a performative staging and cannot be analysed separately. The focus is on the question as to what gestures these texts produce when touching upon virulent topics and how these gestures materialise in certain performances. How do texts and performances deal with structural components of the tragedy (prologue, epilogue, messenger’s report, chorus etc.)? What discourses relating to democracy, gender as well as nationalist, ethnic and cultural issues are picked up on? What times and spaces appear by making recourse to affective gestures such as those of lamentation, defamation or revenge in one picture? What itineraries can be traced between the attic pretext, its rewriting and performance and what intermedial processes are related to it?

Based on these questions, Jelinek’s rewriting of tragedies as well as selected performances of these texts undergo transdisciplinary cross-readings at the intersection of literary and theatre studies. An analytical toolkit will be developed for aesthetic productions, the needs of which can no longer be met by models used in conventional drama and performance analyses. With recourse to the phenomenon of gestures, the methodologically pluralistic work combines tragedy research with approaches from performance studies, political theory, the cultural studies-oriented discipline of affect studies as well as the newly emerging theory of invectivity. In this context and in line with Mieke Bal, “gesture” is considered a travelling concept, oscillating between various disciplines, but also between text(s) and performance(s).

The first systematic review of the references to tragedy in Jelinek’s works touches upon key socio-political discourses of our age, places them within a historical and international context and thus sees itself as a socially relevant fundamental work.