Materialism of Early Modern Entertainments

Event Date: 
26 May 2018

 Queen Mary University of London


Rather than asking, “What is the attitude of a work to the relations of production of its time?” I would like to ask, “What is its position in them?”

– Walter Benjamin, “The Author as Producer”


In their introduction to a recent special edition of Shakespeare Bulletin (35.3; Fall 2017), Susan Bennett and Gina Bloom make the case for an interdisciplinary approach that applies the disciplinary concerns of Performance Studies to Shakespeare Studies. ‘Over the last twenty to thirty years,’ they write, ‘performance has moved, definitively, from a marginal sub-field to a robust and diverse set of interests and approaches that impacts many critical nodes from the production of texts to the material conditions of early modern theatres’ (368). To this end, this conference is more concerned with process than product: it takes for its subject the material conditions of production in London's early modern theatre and performance industry and their relation to its wider historical, economic, ideological, and cultural context. It seeks to develop an understanding of the political economy of theatre, maintaining that theatre of early modern England participates in (and does not merely reflect) the social relations in which it operates.


We welcome proposals from any relevant discipline, and are interested in how this focus might be served by a range of historical, economic, critical, and theoretical methodologies.


This conference welcomes proposals from early career researchers. Papers should aim to be between fifteen and twenty minutes in length.

Possible topics for papers include but are by no means limited to:

  • Performance spaces/theatrical architecture/(sub)urban contexts
  • Stage technologies/innovation/design
  • Para-theatrical traditions/masques/animal baitings
  • Audiences/playgoing/spectatorship
  • Theatrical finance/economics/property relations
  • Professionalisation/subsumption/proletarianisation
  • International trade/imperialism/colonialism
  • Legal/juridical/regulatory relations


Please submit a short abstract (no more than 250 words) and a brief bio to by 30 March 2018.

This conference is organized between the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies and the Department of Drama at QMUL by Amy Borsuk, Alessandro Simari, and Martin Young.


Conference Website

Submission date for papers: 
30 Mar 2018