CALL FOR PAPERS: The Opportune Moment and the Early Modern Theatre of Politics

An initiative of the Grasping Kairos Research Network

Thursday 12th November 2015, 13.00-20.00, Room 112, 43 Gordon Square, Birkbeck, University of London   Seminar: 13.00-17.30

Keynote: 18.00-19.00 Professor Neil Rhodes, University of St Andrews, followed by a drinks reception

This seminar will be the first meeting of Grasping Kairos, an international research network ( which investigates the history of the opportune moment (kairos/ occasio) in literature, theory, art, religion and philosophy. This seminar will focus on the uses, and the idea, of the opportune moment in the political theatre / theatrical politics of the European Renaissance.

Although in many ways lost to contemporary conceptualisations of temporality, kairos/occasio was an essential part of the Renaissance world-view. Writers from Machiavelli to Shakespeare reiterated the importance of recognising and properly seizing kairos or ‘occasion’ in order to achieve desired ends – whether personal or political. The need to be attentive to this moment could justify normally immoral actions, and so kairos was associated with moral flexibility, deviousness and cunning, both in the political and theatrical worlds.

We invite papers that explore the concept of kairos/occasio in relation to any aspect of early modern theatre or political thought in the period 1500-1660. Questions that papers might address include:
  • How does the concept of the opportune moment shape political and performative spheres in the period?
  • How do discourses of kairos/occasio outside politics or theatre impact its representation in those respective worlds?
  • What is the relationship between the idea of the opportune moment in political and in theatrical discourses?
  • What performative strategies employ concepts of the moment in the early modern period?
  • How is kairos/occasio visualised on the early modern stage? 
  • In what ways is the concept of the opportune moment used to confirm or destabilise identity? 
  • How does the idea or representation of kairos/occasio change across this time period?

To attend the seminar, please send an abstract of max. 300 words, accompanied by a one-page CV by 30th September 2015 to the seminar organisers Dr Joanne Paul, Dr Kristine Johanson, and Dr Sarah Lewis at We welcome abstracts from both established scholars and postgraduates. If you would like to audit the seminar, please email the network and hopefully we will be able to accommodate you.

To attend the keynote address, please email to be added to the list of attendees.

For more information, please visit the Grasping Kairos website:

This event is funded by a London Renaissance Seminar Small Prize Internship