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On History’s Stage: Theatre and Performance in the French Atlantic Slave Colonies

Submitted by ccarlin on 30 March 2017 - 8:47pm

February 8-9, Baton Rouge, Louisiana and May 16-17 in Fort-de-France

Proposals due 30 June 2017


This two-part international conference, co-sponsored by Louisiana State University and the Université des Antilles-Martinique, seeks to bring together scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds to expand the contemporary understanding of theatre and performance in the French Caribbean under the ancien régime. Theatre, arguably the defining artistic expression of the Bourbon monarchy, figures as a central aspect of metropolitan France’s political, intellectual, and social cultures, but its impact in the Antillean and Louisiana colonies remains to be told. Our conference, and the anticipated bilingual publication that will emerge from it, seeks to redress this oversight through scholarship that highlights the specificities of early modern and Enlightenment theatrical culture in context of France’s slave-based colonial empire.


We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary approaches and welcome a diversity of methodological approaches. Our three main axes of inquiry are bodies, spaces, and texts. Our goal is a far-ranging, innovative, and stimulating conversation on this under-studied domain of ancien régime theatrical culture.


Contributions may address one or more of the following themes:

  • ·      Theatre actors and audiences, as well as administrative and technical staff
  • ·      Casting practices, pay, and professional life of performers
  • ·      Social status of performers in the colonies
  • ·      Performance protocols and colonial standards of behavior / corporeal expression
  • ·      Enslaved bodies and performance culture
  • ·      The body politic and the performing body in the colonial space
  • ·      Afterlives of colonial performance
  • ·      Reception and/or continued presence of ancient régime theatre and performance in the modern and contemporary Caribbean basin
  • ·      Sites and material conditions of performance
  • ·      Public theatre vs. private theatricals
  • ·      Theatre architecture and colonial urbanization
  • ·      Colonial ecology and geography on stage
  • ·      Theatre and maritime circulation
  • ·      Repertoires of Antillean theatre before 1848
  • ·      State and stakes of critical writing on theatre and performance in the colonies
  • ·      Modalities of publication, dissemination, and censorship
  • ·      Colonial re-readings of classical French theatre
  • ·      Representations of slavery on the French-language stage
  • ·      Dramatic inheritances of the French Atlantic empire

We invite proposals for 30-minute presentations, which may subsequently be revised for publication in a peer-reviewed collective volume. Our two journées d’étude are to be held on February 8-9 in Baton Rouge, and May 16-17 in Fort-de-France, respectively. Applicants should specify which session they wish to attend.

Please send proposals in English or French (not to exceed one page) and a brief biographical statement to both Jeffrey Leichman (jleichman@lsu.edu) and Karine Bénac-Giroux (Karine.Benac@univ-antilles.fr) by 30 June 2017. Decisions will be sent out by August 2017.