Traveling Forms - A Research Agenda

We contend that the category of ‘form’, contrary to an influential preconception, is not limited to the field of the arts, but also a powerful factor in the shaping of culture and society. Aesthetic forms are social forms and vice versa. We also want to show that the circulation of artistic forms has wider cultural implications. As they travel, forms connect and translate between cultures, and by adapting to local conditions in turn are subject to change.

One central characteristic of forms in our understanding is thus their mobility and their ability to facilitate communication and orientation in our increasingly globalized and interconnected world. While committed to studying processes of global exchange, our research focuses on the geographical areas of Western Europe and Southern Africa, looking in particular at the present, as well as at early modernity and the moment around 1800 (a period of intensified circulation of theatrical and performative forms in Europe as its nations engaged in a struggle for cultural hegemony).