B. van Oostveldt
- The Sublime and French Seventeenth-Century Theories of the Spectacle
- Toward an Aesthetic Approach to Performance
- Theatre Survey
- Volume | Issue number
- 58 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH)
Theatre scholars and historians assume too easily that theoretical reflection on the performative qualities of the theatre began only in the eighteenth century. In mid-eighteenth century France, writers and philosophers such as Denis Diderot, Jean le Rond D'Alembert, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Antoine-François Riccoboni, or Jean-Georges Noverre (to name but a few) showed a passionate interest in the aesthetics and the morality of performance practices in dramatic theatre, music theatre, or dance. Compared to this rich diversity of ideas in the eighteenth century, seventeenth-century French writings on theatre and the performing arts seem, at first sight, far less interesting or daring. However, this is merely a modern perception. Our idea of le théâtre classique is still rather reductionist, and often limited to the theatrical canon of Pierre Corneille, Jean Racine, and Molière. It affords a view of the performing arts that is dominated by tragedy and comedy and that, firmly embedded within a neo-Aristotelian poetics, privileges dramatic concerns above performative interests.
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