Summer School 2015

IP Concepts of Holiness

Performing Belief: The Religious as Critical Practice

International Summer School - 13-19 July 2015

Concepts of Holiness: Performing Radicality - The Return of the Religious

From the perspective of the late 20th century, religion in Europe could still be conceived as a waning entity: Religious practices had increasingly become invisible through their dissociation from religious institutions and by their banishment to the realm of the private. Simultaneously, they seemed to have been succeeded by “the spirit of capitalism” (Max Weber) or to have found their new place within this “spirit,” as in Walter Benjamin’s claim that capitalism was not beyond religion, but a form of religion itself. However, the global events inaugurating the 21st century, such as the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the recent, near collapse of the capitalistic financial markets, have vehemently brought the religious back into public discourse.

Against this background, the program “Concepts of Holiness” proposes an operational approach to the religious that allows students to revisit diverse concepts of holiness in a broader sense and to reevaluate the role of religion(s) in Theatre, Cultural Performance, and Media. During 2013 and 2014, “Concepts of Holiness” scrutinised the religious in performance and the religious as a critical practice. In 2015, we would like to address the return of (radical) religious performativity within a range of formats, such as seminars, workshops, lectures and excursions.

Schedule here .

Flyer here .

More information here .


July 14th–15th 2015, 9.30am-5pm, Infobox 
Energies of Truth: Utopia, Sacrifice, and Performance 
Prof. Sharon Aronson-Lehavi (Bar-Ilan) Prof. Michael Bachmann (Glasgow)

With its etymological origins in the Latin word for root (radix), the term “radical” engenders two seemingly contradictory meanings: either having roots or departing from what is deemed to be traditional. Through a series of case stu-dies—including, but not limited to the work of Adrienne Kennedy, Heiner Müller, Deb Margolin and Hanoch Levin—we look at religious “returns” in contemporary theatre and performance and examine how they relate the different meanings of “radical”. More specifically, the seminar asks how the “radical” performance of religious themes allows for a broader discussion about the ways in which notions of “truth” are constructed and problematized. Drawing on theoretical readings by Jacques Derrida, Alain Badiou and René Girard, among others, we will explore these questions by focusing on sacrifice and utopia as two paradigms that are not only central to religious theatricality and performativity, but intrinsically bound up with a performance of and a belief in “truth”.

July 16th–17th 2015, 9.30am-5pm, Infobox 
Theatre and Asylum Seekers. Performing Stories of Utopia and Refuge 
Prof. Julia Stenzel (Mainz) Prof. Steve Wilmer (Dublin)  

The topics of leaving home, of homelessness, and of looking for a better place to live are crucial to Attic Theatre. As Hikesia cannot be described without a strong reference to mainly religious practices of un/doing bor-ders and generating temenoi (,places asylum‘), it is all but surprising that many of the ancient Greek tragedies dealing with asylum seekers involve religious beliefs and devotional practices. But Attic Comedy is a paradigma-tic place negotiating utopian and dystopian ways of leaving home as well. Especially plays which provide stage journeys of anabasic/katabasic nature (e.g. ,Birds‘, ,Peace‘ or ,Frogs‘), have been brought to (post)modern theatri-cal life  for they are dealing with precarious political situations. 

In our seminar, we will focus not only on the plays themselves and theo-retical readings on hospitality, but also on the role of theatre in general and specific theatres, festivals and theatrical events in current debates on immigration and political utopianism (e.g. Berlin theatres and the Berliner Theatertreffen becoming active in the debate about immigration at the moment, scenic negotiations of European Utopias and Eu/Utopia in gene-ral). Europe comes into sight as a place of longing or a merely abstract ideal of freedom, equality and solidarity. 


Mon., 13th July 2015, 5pm, Linke Aula 
Prof. Freddie Rokem (Tel Aviv): 
„But the full sum of me is the sum of something“ - Counting to Three in The Merchant of Venice“

Evening Lectures

Tue.,14th July 2015, 6pm, 
Linke Aula Dr. Gabriele Pfeiffer (Vienna): 
Putting on a Phrygian Hat

Wed., 15th July 2015, 6pm, Linke Aula 
Prof. Steve Wilmer (Dublin): 
Invisible Mothers: Biopolitical Control in Catholic Ireland

Thu., 16th July 2015, 6pm, Linke Aula 
Prof. Jody Enders (Santa Barbara): 
Medieval Church Pornography and the Radical Farce of Theology

Fri., 17th July 2015, 6pm, RW3 
Dr. Joshua Edelmann (London): 
What performance studies needs from religious studies (and vice versa)

Presentation Panels

Sat., 18th July & Sun., 29th July 2015, 9.30am-1pm, Infobox 
Presentations by IPP Ph.D. candidates and international guests


Sat., 18th July 2015, starting 2.30am destination to be announced!


 Fri., 17th July 2015 app 19:00-open end!

In 2015, the Summer School "Concepts of Holiness" is funded by SoCuM (Reserach center of Social and Cultural Studies Mainz).