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Spring School ‘Historical Performance Studies’

Medieval and Early Modern Studies Spring School 2023: Historical Performance Studies

This Spring School is organised by Ghent University (Doctoral School AHL), University of Groningen, University of Göttingen, the Huizinga Institute and the Dutch Research School for Medieval Studies to stimulate contacts and exchange between PhD candidates and ReMa students in the field of literary studies, cultural history, art history, media studies, theatre studies, musicology, history of dance, history of religion, history of science, and early modern and medieval history.


Scholars of the medieval and early modern period encounter the concept of performance in various disciplines. The notion of performativity is no longer limited to the study of traditional theatrical arts but also employed to deepen our understanding of social, political, and religious events and rituals. This Spring School will therefore pay attention to a wide range of performances in history, from political gatherings, religious rituals, and courtroom proceedings to theatre, concerts, and dance. It combines a focus on the medieval and early modern period with an interdisciplinary perspective, attending to the theoretical background of performance studies, its related concepts, and its more practical sides. Moreover, the Spring School will enable speakers and participants to reflect on new methodological approaches, including digital humanities, the intertwinement of arts and science, and research through performance.


The course takes four recent lines of research in the field of historical performance studies and their related concepts as a starting point: rituals & performativity, embodiment & self-fashioning, computational approaches, and cultural techniques. Specialists from various scholarly backgrounds (cultural history, history of knowledge, literary studies, and theatre history) will reflect on how they define and apply the above-mentioned concepts in their own research.

An accompanying reading list will offer the participants a stepping stone to engage in further reflection and discussion. Through short pitches, the attending PhD and Research Master students will reflect on the possibilities and difficulties of working with the concerning concepts in their own research projects. More informal talks about historical performance studies will be possible during a thematic guided walk through Groningen and a workshop on historical acting techniques.


Session I: Walk through Groningen – Guide: Renée Vulto (Utrecht University)

Session II: Rituals and Performativity – Lecturers: Marian Füssel (University of Göttingen) & Rina Knoeff (University of Groningen)

Session III: Embodiment, Performativity & Self-fashioning – Lecturers: Sidia Fiorato (University of Verona) & Catrien Santing (University of Groningen)

Session IV: Digital Humanities and Historical Performance Studies – Lecturer: Erika Kuijpers (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Session V: Workshop Digital Humanities – Lecturers: Dinah Wouters (Huygens Institute) & Andrea Peverelli (Huygens Institute)

Session VI: Workshop Historical Acting Techniques – Teacher: Laila Neuman (Leiden University)

Session VII: Imagineering – Lecturers: Frans-Willem Korsten (Leiden University) & Kornee van der Haven (Ghent University)


PhD students and ReMa students are invited to register for this course through the following link: Registration form. Please note that there is a limited number of places available for this course. After your registration you will soon receive more information about whether your registration can be confirmed or not. Some of the participating graduate/doctoral schools and research groups will cover tuition and lodging for their participating members (please wait for more information after your registration).

Organising institutions and partners

This Spring School is an initiative of GEMS (Group for Early Modern Studies, Ghent University), Thalia (Ghent University-Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Doctoral Schools AHL (Ghent University), University of Göttingen, ICOG (Research Institute for the Study of Culture, University of Groningen), the Huizinga Institute (Netherlands Graduate School for Cultural History, Utrecht University) and the Dutch Research School for Medieval Studies, in close cooperation with, IEMH (Institute for Early Modern History (Ghent University-Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Onderzoeksgroep Nieuwe Tijd (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), Ruusbroecgenootschap (University of Antwerp), and Research Centre for Visual Poetics (University of Antwerp).