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City, Space, and Spectacle in Nineteenth-Century Performance

You are warmly invited to

City, Space, and Spectacle in

Nineteenth-Century Performance

A conference organised in conjunction with Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film

This conference is dedicated to the memory of Michael Booth (1931-2017)

Palazzo Pesaro-Papafava, Venice

University of Warwick

2 pm Friday 8 June – 3 pm Sunday 10 June 2018

Keynote speakers:

Professor Nicholas Daly, University College Dublin

Professor Lynda Nead, Birkbeck, University of London

Confirmed speakers include:

Professor Michael Burden, New College, University of Oxford

Professor Tracy C. Davis, Northwestern University

Emeritus Professor Baz Kershaw, University of Warwick

Emeritus Professor David Mayer, University of Manchester

Professor Kate Newey, University of Exeter

Professor Michael Pisani, Vassar College

Professor Laurence Senelick, Tufts University

Professor Shearer West, University of Nottingham

The registration fee for this conference of £75 per person (£35 for PGRs/unsalaried) includes a reception on the evening of Friday 8th June and lunch on Saturday 9th June. It is payable in advance via the online payment form.

'City, Space, and Spectacle in Nineteenth-Century Performance' is convened by the editors of Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film: Professor Jim Davis, Dr Janice Norwood, Dr Patricia Smyth and Professor Sharon Aronofsky Weltman, and is sponsored by the Humanities Research Centre, University of Warwick.

Details of the Palazzo Pesaro-Papafava including location and accommodation can be found at

For informal inquiries regarding this event, please contact Patricia Smyth at

Call for Papers


© Victoria & Albert Museum

The city played a central role in nineteenth-century performance, whether as a setting for stage drama, the site of festivals, carnivals, and street theatre, or as a context for the performative interactions of everyday life. A favourite subject of new types of show such as the Panorama and Diorama, the city itself offered a compelling spectacle to inhabitants and visitors alike. Throughout the century, crowds were frequently drawn to particular sites and scenes in which the city was felt to reveal its secrets, while gaslight rendered the metropolis into a drama of lights and shadows, what Lynda Nead has called ‘a poetics of gas’.

We invite the submission of abstracts on any topic connected to the themes of city, space, and spectacle in nineteenth-century performance. We welcome papers on all types of urban performance and also its representation in other media such as fiction, poetry, painting, photography, periodicals, and early film. Possible subjects could include, but are not limited to: the role of urban settings in drama; the fascination with the ‘real’ (for instance, topographically accurate simulations of the contemporary urban environment); antiquarian reconstructions (plays claiming to recreate sixteenth-century Venice, ancient Nineveh, or old London); carnivals, festivals, puppet shows, and other extra-theatrical events; the city as a site of performative interaction (rituals, ceremonies, political demonstrations, hoaxes, the business of everyday social life); imaginary cities (for instance, Pandemonium as portrayed in de Loutherbourg’s Eidophusikon or in Burford’s Panorama); ‘ideal’ cities (as in the White City at the Chicago World Fair); the fascination with certain urban sites (underground spaces, places associated with criminality); the city as the site of catastrophe (for instance, plays about Pompeii); theatre buildings as part of the urban fabric (as in the role of theatres in narratives of progress and/or decay); urban themes within plays (shopping, speculation).

Speakers will be asked to present 20-minute papers with questions and discussion at the end. Please submit abstracts of 200 words and a biography of 100 words to by 31 January 2018.

The call for papers is now closed.

City, Space, and Spectacle in Nineteenth-Century Performance is sponsored by the Humanities Research Centre, University of Warwick.