Ästhetische Eigenzeiten – Zeit und Darstellung in der polychronen Moderne

Dramatische Eigenzeiten des Politischen

Michael Gamper (Berlin), Peter Schnyder (Neuchâtel)

Teilprojekte Phase: 1. 2.

Dramatische Eigenzeiten des Politischen

The subproject combines questions on time-referenced aesthetics of drama with analytical perspectives on the emerging historical and political regimes of temporality in the second half of the 18th century. Two aspects are of major interest to this approach: The temporalization of history during the rise of Historicism and changing temporal configurations of the political. The latter are rooted in the transformation from a feudal to an administrative state, constraints on individual agency imposed by the law, changing medial practices of political communication or a critique of Natural law as voiced from the perspective of a longue durée of the political community in the context of ›political Romanticism‹. The analysis concentrates on the manifestations of these semantic, medial and conceptual shifts in the performative logic and aesthetics of drama.

In its function as a medium, drama is particularly suited to convey, produce presentations of and reflect on these epistemological and poetological changes. Drama needs to conform to formal requirements rooted in the genre’s history while at the same time, it is part of theater’s transformation in the second half of the 18th century. Within this tension drama reacts sensitively to processes of social change and tries to wield influence on them by presenting possible future developments. According to their genre-specific nature, dramatic texts thus necessarily and continuously generate new temporal and spatial orders on the textual level that, to different extents, deviate from and contradict the dominant temporal order of the time when they were written. Moreover, the individual dramatic work is characterized by tensions that materialize on several temporal levels: tensions between the historicity of the plot and the situation at the moment of textual production, as well as between the bygone instant of textual production and the present situation of theatrical performance. Indeed, as new readings and performances continue to actualize dramatic texts in history, these temporal horizons are infinitely expandable into the future.

In the larger context of aesthetic temporalities, this subproject hence aims to analyze how literary dramatic texts between 1770 and 1850 function to stage and reflect on changed rhythms and temporal structures in the political realm by addressing political actions and incidents of their time within the genre’s predefined temporal structures. Against this backdrop, a number of research questions arise, which shall be examined along a selection of texts and their contemporary performance practices and respective contexts. The objective is to deduce dramatic temporalities of the political and their fundamental theoretical implications as well as variations of their material actualization. This will be accomplished by the two project supervisors and two Ph.D. students.