The Presence of the Past - European Cultures of Memory (2010)

Performative Presence of the Past

For the first time, the IPP Summer School (2–14 July 2010) is taking place under the patronage of the newly founded DAAD-IP „European Cultures of Memory“. Under the heading of this year's topic „Performative Presence of the Past“, we will investigate the role of performative and theatrical models of witnessing and their constitutive significance regarding the presence of the past. The focus will lie on various forms of theatrical representation of the past, on issues of witnessing in the theatre as well as on certain national models of theatre historiography. The seminars will be complemented by practical workshops, an evening lecture series and an extensive social programme.



Seminar 1: “What art thou?” Ghosts on Stage: The Uneasy Persistence of the Past.
Peter W. Marx (Bern), Martin Puchner (New York)

Ghosts on stage enact an uneasy presence of the past: they do not simply represent the past but challenge the present with a call for the right of the past, be it revenge, reconciliation or sacrifice. While the appearance of ghosts is a widespread phenomenon, they are rather contingent in their specific guise and ‘vocation’.
The seminar will take a closer look at different ‘apparitions’ on stage, ranging from Senecan ghosts, to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and up to Heiner Müller, but also non-Western ghosts as they appear in Nô plays among others.

Seminar 2: Acting the Past
Stefan Hulfeld (Wien), Friedemann Kreuder (Mainz)

The ways in which actors represent the past will be identified in terms of the respective proximity or distance that an actor establishes to the figure being presented. The realization of a veristic, rhetorical, or playful-reflexive style draws in part from historically remote acting traditions, which extend into contemporary performances as a reevaluated and reactualized past. If one understands culture not only as text but also – contrary to a decades-old tradition of academic thought – as performance, the question of the proximity or distance of staged representation to its objects of presentation asserts itself in the wider field of inquiry concerning contemporary Cultural Performances (Singer) and the aesthetic, ethical, and material interests of contemporary (memory) culture manifested in theatrical forms.
The performance approach explores cultural studies from the New Historicist perspective of Stephen Greenblatt, as a circulation of social energy through historical processes. Observed from such a cultural studies perspective of necessary longue durée, acting methods as well as their associated discourses become key indices of the realisation of cultural values, as well as the possibility of commenting upon them.

Seminar 3: Theatre and Nationalism
Philippe Wellnitz (Montpellier), Steve Wilmer (Dublin)

This seminar will focus on plays and theatrical events in Europe and North America from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries and their role in establishing or challenging national values, such as Schiller’s William Tell and The Maid of Orleans, W. B. Yeats, Cathleen ni Houlihan, J.M. Synge, The Playboy of the Western World, Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight: L.A., Tony Kushner, Angels in America. The lectures will review the formation of national theatres and the use of nationalist ideologies in the theatre, and the development of national dramatic canons in Europe and the United States, as well as transnational and anti-national performances. It will also consider the virulent nationalist performances of the Nazi era, as well as plays by Brecht, Hochhuth and Heiner Müller that attacked that ideology. In addition to plays and theatrical events, students will examine theoretical and philosophical texts on nationalism and the construction of national identity (such as those by Anthony Smith, Benedict Anderson, Homi Bhabha, Ernest Gellner, Ernest Renan, and Eric Hobsbawm).


Workshop A: The Multiplicity of Memories: Physical Ensemble Performance
Nicholas Johnson (Dublin)

This practical workshop will focus on the physical approach to performance, the use of an ensemble to create theatre, and techniques of improvisation. The body itself — and the gathering of multiple bodies that forms an "ensemble" — will be used to explore techniques of presenting narrative from our individual and collective past. The training vocabulary will include reference to the acting approaches of Michael Chekhov, Bertolt Brecht, and the art of corporeal mime. These practical explorations will deepen our theoretical understanding of some fundamentals of performance, treating the ensemble as a laboratory for experimentation with energy, noise, text, memory, and finally politics.
Please note: this workshop will be active, physically demanding at times, and will require clothes for movement.

Workshop B: The Body's Memory
Gabriele C. Pfeiffer (Wien)

The human body functions as material as well as an instrument for performers. Different techniques and styles of acting, depending on tradition and cultural identity, are memorized inside the body from where they are retrievable. The body itself is a medium and manifestation of individual acquired craft and at the same time of cultural memory. During the workshop different applications of techniques will be expounded and discussed with focus on the Euro-American field. Drawing on an emic and etic perspective, there will be a physical approach with rudimentary practical work.

Workshop C: Animated Retrospection
Franziska Bruckner (Wien)

This workshop is a theoretical and practical introduction into the world of animation. The students will study examples of animation film in various animation-techniques, which contend the issues “memory" and/or “history". The second part will be a practical attempt to recombine the historical background of all workshop students, using found footage of the students families, eg. old pictures in order to bring a new perspective to those historical artifacts through animation like cutout-animation, modified-base animation or pixilation.

Attention! Unfortunatley the workshop on "Alas! Mon Dieu! Interjections, Emotionality, and Culture" by Corinne Blin (Montpellier) has been canceled and will be replaced by the following:

Workshop D: Urban Soundscapes (Performing the City)
Michael Bachmann (Mainz)

During the last decade, performance studies have rediscovered sound as a paradigm for performativity. This is due, at least in part, to sound’s ephemeral nature: In contrast to moving images, sounds cannot be put on pause without disappearing. The workshop takes this fleeting presence as a starting point for performing the city—its past, present and future—by building either acoustic narratives or aural atmospheres from the sounds that we gather (i.e., record) when walking through Mainz, Frankfurt and Wiesbaden.


In addition, there will be excursions, evening lectures and presentation panels, details of which will be announced in due course.


The IPP Summer School is aimed at doctoral students who are conducting their research at one of the associated institutions of the IP „The Presence of the Past – European Cultures of Memory“ (University of Mainz; University of Vienna; University Paul Valériy, Montpellier; Trinity College Dublin).

Depending on availability, it may also be possible for external candidates to participate in the Summer School. Applications must be sent to (subject: Application Summer School) until the 15th May 2010 and should include a personal statement, an academic CV and a short outline of the applicant's PhD project (500 words maximum).
The registration fee is 150 € which includes all courses and meals during the Summer School. There might be an extra charge for excursions and other cultural events which can be paid upon arrival.
Five scholarships will be made available to select applicants by the IPP Performance and Media Studies.

If required, the IPP is able to organise private or hotel/hostel accommodation at a price of 400 € for the duration for the Summer School. This also applies to candidates who are awarded a scholarship.