THEME. The discussions will focus on such questions as: How did Rousseau’s thinking influence the theatrical aesthetics and practices of the (long) eighteenth century? How are Rousseau’s activities as a philosopher, as a theatre and opera critic, and as a playwright related to each other? How are his theories on language, music and bodily movement connected to his ideas on theatrical practice? How were Rousseau’s plays and operas (meant to be) performed originally, in regard to acting, scenery, music and theatrical space?

As a starting point for this three-day conference, we wish to emphasise that, ever since his lifetime, Rousseau has wrongly been regarded by many as belonging to a long tradition of anti-theatrical thinkers. Numerous theatre scholars have refrained from exploring Rousseau’s theatrical aesthetics, convinced that the Lettre à d’Alembert sur les Spectacles was intended as a general rejection of theatre due to its negative effects on the virtue and morals of the people. The long tradition of seeing Rousseau as anti-theatrical – which has dominated within performance studies – has not taken account of the fact that he wrote several theatre plays and operas of his own.

PYGMALION. As an inspiration for the discussions, Performing Premodernity invites you to attend a performance of Rousseau’s melodrama Pygmalion. The performance will take place on 25 August. The leaders of the production will also take part in the conference.

CONTACT. If you wish to attend the conference or the performance of Pygmalion, or if you have any questions, please contact Maria Gullstam, doctoral student, Performing Premodernity.