IZKT-Project "Theatre/Nations – France and Italy"

Romance Literatures I

Projekt seminar with concluding exhibition at the Institut français Stuttgart.

The focus of the project seminar, which is funded by the IZKT, is on the genre of tragedy and its significance for the national self-image that is developing in French and Italian classicism. In a comparison of the authors, Jean Racine and Vittorio Alfieri, who were the authors responsible for tragedy production in both countries, theatre practices are to be linked to the political situation. It will be important to dynamically correlate the time difference between the tragedy productions, which are about a hundred years apart (Racine at the end of the 17th century, Alfieri at the end of the 18th century). If the French classical period marks the beginning of schooling in Europe, the connection between tragedy poetry and the political situation is already evident. The absolutist central state under Louis XIV defines a nationally valid educational project by means of the doctrine classique. The tragedy serves to celebrate the monarch. A century later, it was precisely this entanglement of national politics and tragedy that drove Vittorio Alfieri to establish, for the first time, a tragedy tradition in Italy. The political goal is to establish amongst the population the idea of republican freedom against the tyrant state. In his tragedy project, Alfieri also asserts the cultural supremacy of Italy, which it once held in the Renaissance. Alfieri turns against absolutism with the poetic means of the genre of tragedy annexed by absolutism.

The innovative approach to the classicist tragedy consists above all in linking the French and Italian contexts. Only by using this approach is it possible to make the configurations visible that the tragedy, with its political and cultural implications as a genre, passes through. Both the Racine tragedy and the Alfierian Passion for Tragedy are national educational projects, albeit with different political signs. While Racine, with his Aristotelian Rules of Tragedy, is considered THE guarantor of French classicism and thus also of the absolutist system, one hundred years later, Alfieri writes, on the one hand, under the completely changed conditions of the French Revolution, and, on the other, under the political conditions of an Italy that has not yet been nationally united. Up to his second edition of tragedies which is published by Didot, a Paris publisher who had published a complete edition of the Racine tragedies a few years earlier, Alfieri develops his virtuous-republican tragedy in terms of and in contrast to the French model. On the one hand, the tragedies thus figure at the edition-technical level as literature staged and immortalized for the reader in written characters. On the other, they are staged as national educational projects using contemporary theatre technology. Both techniques of staging when viewed in terms of publication and theatre history are to be subjected in the seminar to questions of reception and production aesthetics. In this way, the seminar not only provides the opportunity for an in-depth introduction into the genre history of tragedy with its staging and theatre technology, but also conveys a cultural-historical perspective which is translated by the students into an exhibition concept. With the Institut Français as the exhibition venue, the results of the project seminar will be presented to a broad and interested audience. Following the exhibition, the posters will be published online on the Romance Studies homepage.

Project duration: 1st of Octobre 2017 - 15th of April 2018

Seminar: weekly on Wednesdays, 11.30 a.m. – 01.00 p.m.

Block courses: Friday 8th of Decembre 2017, 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. / Friday 12th of January, 2018 9.00 a.m. – 05.00 p.m. / Saturday 13th of January, 2018, 09.00 a.m. - 02.00 p.m.

Exhibition on the 8th of February 2018 at 07.00 p.m. at the Institut français Stuttgart (presentation with lecture and a reading), exhibition runs from 8th of February 2018 until 9th of March 2018              

During the semester, students have the opportunity to see film versions of historical productions and tragedies within the format of a "Theatre Club" (in cooperation with Dr. Elodie Ripoll) at the University of Stuttgart.

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Gesine Hindemith


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