The interrelation of all ‘players’ participating in the complex network of collaborations in early modern theatre

Conference: Practices of Collaboration in Early Modern Theatre

Susanne Gruss & Lena Steveker

Keynote speakers: Andy Kesson (University of Roehampton, London), Lucy Munro (King’s College, London) and Tiffany Stern (Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham)

Date and time: Thu, 2 Dec 2021, 14:00 – Sat, 4 Dec 2021, 15:00 CET – Université du Luxembourg (Luxembourg)

This conference discusses the interrelation of all ‘players’ participating in the complex network of collaborations in early modern theatre.

About this event

The culturally pervasive conception of dramatic authorship, which privileges the creative output of a single authorial mind, results from an oversimplification of the manifold practices of cultural production from which plays emerged in early modern England. These plays are in fact the products of a complex culture of collaboration which was pervasive in English theatre and theatrical culture in its formative years. While this is not a new insight – Gordon McMullan, for instance, argued that “collaboration is a much more appropriate model for textual production in general than is ostensibly ‘solo’ writing” as early as 1996 (438) – it is only more recently that critics have started to explore the various practices of collaboration that contributed to early modern theatre in more detail.

Even though early modern collaboration is habitually referenced as a “normal activity” of playwrights (Vickers 2017, 7), academic interest remains largely restricted to collaboration as a form of authorial ‘teamwork’ in the works of repeat collaborators (Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher or Thomas Middleton and William Rowley – see Masten 1997, Hirschfeld 2004, Hutchings and Bromham 2008, Nicol 2012). More recent research in repertory studies has taken into view the collaborative practices within particular playhouses, for example between authors and playing companies (see Munro 2005 and 2020, Gurr 2009, Rutter 2017). Scholars have also started to investigate how the burgeoning print market facilitated the publication and marketing of plays as printed commodities at a time when the author did not yet loom large in the eyes of the public, and how printers contributed to our contemporary (mis)understanding of authorship (see Brooks 2000, Stern 2009 and 2020).

And yet, recent editorial projects such as the Oxford Middleton (2007), the Online Brome (2010), the Oxford Ford (2011-), the Cambridge Jonson (2012) or the forthcoming Oxford Marston demonstrate that early modern drama is still widely conceived of (and marketed) in terms of the single-author play. This focus on the individual author as a marketable product, in particular, obscures the intricate interplay of numerous agents in the early modern dramatic arena: authors (and their respective playing companies), actors, printers, and playhouses.

“Practices of Collaboration in Early Modern Theatre” takes into view the interrelation of all ‘players’ participating in the complex network of collaboration that characterizes early modern theatre. The conference aims to explore more comprehensive concepts of early modern collaboration and, consequently, of early modern authorship. It is situated at the intersection of literary studies, cultural studies, and early modern history, and should be of interest to academics working in the humanities, especially in theatre and performance studies, history, repertory studies, book studies, and literary studies as well as cultural studies more generally.

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Day 1 Thursday, 02 December 2021

14:00-14:30conference opening Susanne Gruss (University of Passau, DE) and Lena Steveker (University of Luxembourg, LUX)
14:30-15:30keynote 1 Tiffany Stern (Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, UK):Product Placement in the Time of Shakespeare
 15:30-16:00coffee break 
16:00-17:00panel 1: Collaboration, Authors, and Texts Laurie Maguire and Emma Smith (Oxford University, UK):
What Is Collaboration?Stephen Longstaffe (independent researcher, UK):
“Compiled by many knaves”: What Can the Text of A Knack To Know A Knave Tell us about Theatrical ‘Collaboration’?
17:00-17:30coffee break
17:30-18:30panel 2: Collaboration, Paratexts, and PrintEmily Smith (University of Geneva, CH):
“what both hau done”: Conceptions of Collaboration in Early Modern Dramatic EpiloguesAndreas P. Bassett (University of Washington, USA):
The Influence of the Jonson and Shakespeare Folios on Early English Playbook Titles
20:00conference dinner (online)

Day 2
Friday, 03 December 2021

9:30-10:30keynote 2 Lucy Munro (King’s College, London, UK): Heminges and Condell and Shakespeare
10:30-11:00coffee break 
11:00-12:00panel 3: Collaboration, Censors, and Adapters
Gabriella Edelstein (University of Newcastle, AUS): Collaborative Censorship in the Sir John van Olden Barnauelt Manuscript
William David Green (independent researcher, UK): Collaborating with the Dead: Reading the Anonymous Adapter in Early Modern Stage Revivals
12:00-13:30lunch break
13:30-14:30panel 4: Collaboration and Actors
Harry R. McCarthy (Jesus College, Cambridge, UK): Actor-Playwrights and Writing (for) the Actor: Field and Fletcher in Collaboration
Cora James (University of Sheffield, UK): “A Rude, laughing, Clownish Hoyden”: The Patent Company and the Comedy of Susanna Verbruggen
14:30-15:00coffee break
15:00-16:00panel 5: Collaboration and (Cultural) Translation
Marianna Iannaccone (independent scholar, I): John Florio: The “Ayde” Of Shakespeare’s Muse
Felicity Brown (Jesus College, University of Oxford, UK): Collaborative Misfortunes: Dramatic Translation and Imitation at Gray’s Inn
 16:00-17:00coffee break 
17:00-18:00panel 6: Collaboration and Travelling Texts
Kirsten Sandrock, (University of Tübingen, DE): Travel Writing, Collaboration, and New Source Studies: The Tempest and King Lear
Regula Hohl Trillini (University of Basel, CH): The Interactive Verbal Web of Renaissance Theatre: The Case of John Marston

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day 3
Saturday, 04 December 2021

9:30-10:30keynote 3Andy Kesson (University of Roehampton, UK):“I was appointed to perform this work” (Aemelia Lanyer): What Is Early Modern Attribution?
10:30-11:00coffee break
11:00-12:00panel 7: Poetics of Collaboration
Matthias Bauer, Sarah Briest, Sara Rogalski & Angelika Zirker (University of Tübingen, DE):
Reflections on Co-Creativity in Early Modern Drama
Sarah Briest (University of Tübingen, DE): Some Body to Bear Me Company: The Logistics of Plotting in the Directional Plays
12:00-13:30lunch break
13:30-14:30panel 8: Collaborative Performances
Maria Shmygol (University of Leeds, UK): Pyrotechnic Performance in Jacobean London
Marcus Hartner (University of Bielefeld, DE): Silent Archives and Scholarly Reconstructions: Early Modern Practices of Collaboration in the Staging of the Muslim World
14:30-15:00conference round-up
Susanne Gruss (University of Passau, DE) and Lena Steveker (University of Luxembourg, LUX)
Giovanni Florio, known as John Florio, is recognised as the most important humanist in Renaissance's England.

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