The Gorboduc Project: Territory, Politics and Performance

June 22nd-23rd 2017, Northumbria University

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union constitutes the most momentous separation of British-European political culture since the Protestant Reformation, dragging questions of localised political autonomy into the spotlight. Ongoing nationwide movements toward political devolution are transforming notions of political agency in terms of the regional and local. As scholarly and public interest in ideas of British political identity continues to sharpen, this conference explores themes of division and devolution in drama written at the dawn of the British Empire. Looking to Britain’s uncertain future by learning about its past can tell us much about how literature responds to drastic political change, not least in terms of the territories (real and imagined) with which it is invested.

This call for papers seeks to address questions relating to territory and politics at the dawn of the British Empire, and to explore how those questions were unpacked through the medium of dramatic performance. The tumultuous reigns of the Tudors saw English dramaturgy assume a heightened political focus, and notions of local, territorial identity brought into dialogue with perspectives on the nation’s place within an emerging imperial framework. From Norton and Sackville’s Gorboduc to Shakespeare’s history plays, Tudor drama interrogated relationships between civil divisions and international connections in embodied forms – repeatedly shadowing questions of the body politic with semantics of dismemberment, disability, and malfunction. Pre-empting questions of territory and politics that saturate many of our own political debates by over four centuries, these plays use boundaries, bodies and places to question, support, and oppose regional-political authority.

Confirmed plenary speaker: Jessica Winston, Idaho State University.

We invite abstract proposals of 300 words (or less) on topics including, but not limited to Tudor dramatic performances and
  • devolution, rebellion, and insurrection
  • patronage and performance
  • political personations
  • propaganda and regionalised politics
  • borders, boundaries, and political edges
  • politics of translation
  • staging devotional loyalty and/or novelty
  • locations of performance

Please send proposals to Paul Frazer and Harriet Archer by 1st February 2017.