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Sven Åke HeedProfessor emeritus

About me

Sven Åke Heed is professor emeritus at Stockholm University since 2008. In his research he has mainly focussed on theatre aesthetics and theory.


Ph.D. at Lund University in 1983, submitting the dissertation Le coco du dada. Victor ou Les enfants au pouvoir de Roger Vitrac: texte et représentation, which shows by a semiotic method how different significations can be generated from a dramatic text, depending on what occasion and in what context the play is produced. Theatre semiotics, which at the time of the dissertation were considered an innovative method, makes it possible to study, from the same theoretic concepts, such different aesthetic objects as a dramatic text and its production on stage. The method was introduced in a popular form in En väv av tecken (1989) and Teaterns tecken (2002), both of which were used as course books in theatre studies and other neighbouring subjects.

Ever since the dissertation French theatre – and especially the avant-garde theatre of the 20th century – has been central in Heed's research. The next important study on this subject came in 1996 with Roger Blin. Metteur en scène de l'avant-garde (1949-1959), which is an analysis of Blin's early productions on alternative stages in Paris of dramatists such as August Strindberg, Arthur Adamov, Samuel Beckett and Jean Genet. Especially the first stage production of Waiting for Godot (1953) is here given close attention. For a Swedish public the analysis of Strindberg's Ghost Sonata, put on stage by Blin in 1949, was of special interest. It is possible that Blin's stage version of this play was inspired by Antonin Artaud's famous project for a planned stage production of the play, which was never concretized. This would open for an interesting continuity within the French avant-garde theatre.

The Scandinavian theatre – Ibsen and Strindberg – was the subject of the collaboration for many years with a research team of international scholars. At a number of conferences in different countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Italy, France, Greece) Heed has presented studies in the work of the two Scandinavian giants and contemporary productions of their plays. The contributions from a conference at Stockholm University, Ibsen in the Theatre (2009), were collected in a volume with the same title.

From 2004 to 2007 Heed was member of the board of a large national project, Teater i Sverige, a special initiative by Vetenskapsrådet (the Scientific Council) in order to write a new Swedish theatre history from oldest times till today. Apart from being a writing contributor Heed was also editor of two of the three volumes in the final publication Ny svensk teaterhistoria 1-3 (2007).

Another research team with which Heed has been a regular collaborator for many years about the French 17th century writers (Corneille, Racine, Molière) is a group of scholars still active under the direction of Georges Forestier (Université de Paris-Sorbonne). The team has been leading in the preparations and realisations of the Racine jubilee (1999) and the recent Molière jubilee in 2022. The collaboration with the group has led to a number of articles about the French classics and modern productions of their works, and most recently an edition of six comedies by Molière in recent Swedish translations (2021).


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

Show all publications by Sven Åke Heed at Stockholm University