Traveling Tragedy (Juliane Vogel)

The project investigates two different models of circulation. It asks how codified and uncodified poetic forms move across territorial boundaries taking the migration of tragedy in early modernity as an example and mainly comparing classicist tragedy with Shakespearean tragedy. On the one hand we investigate the distribution of a standardized dramatic genre that emerged in seventeenth century France which was subject to controlled migration that served the representational interests of European courts and participated in the symbolic power politics of European monarchies. Here we will pay attention to the political and cultural institutions that enabled tragedies to travel, communicated the rules that regulated their production and reflected the appropriation requirements of changing linguistic, cultural, and political environments. Shakespeare’s tragedies on the other hand acquaint us with the itinerary of an unregulated form of tragedy that—because of its dramatic structure alone—eluded the normative constraints associated with the French model. Shakespeare’s tragedies travelled through the medium of oral communication and physical performance in an informal theatrical world. The traveling theater troups that introduced them on the continent presented truncated tragedies in oral and improvisational shape which circulated without a controlling institutional framework until they became the prototype for a genuinely “modern” dramatic form in Germany. However, the argument will not be limited to establishing an opposition. It will also expose the crossroads where both models interchange.