mirror effects on contemporary Spanish-speaking stages

Family stories, national history: mirror effects on contemporary Spanish-speaking scenes

Call for papers

Colloquium organized by Fanny Blin (Gustave Eiffel University) and Anne Laure Feuillastre (Sorbonne University)

Thursday 25 and Friday 26 May 2023

The significance of the family motif in dramatic representations from Antiquity has crystallized since the contemporary turn around the game of scale between family and nation, offering a particularly rich field of research. This is why this symposium chooses to examine, in Spanish and Latin American theater in the 20th and 21st centuries, the close relationship between the representation of family crises and the staging of national conflicts.

Perceived as the first social unit and institution, the family constantly inspires dramaturgy, which notably functions as a mirror of societies and their mutations. Political stability, like national feeling, depends in part on the values ​​transmitted in families:
It is the family, in effect, the first nucleus of transmission of social values; therefore, the future stability of the new political situation will be linked to the modification of the contents transmitted by it. The harmony between family and political values ​​constitutes the guarantee of survival of the new system.[1]

With the memorial debates that have agitated the nations of the Hispanic area, the mirror game between historiography and family histories has been particularly exploited. It is this that reflects the question of writing and research on the past in many plays, sometimes coming to undermine the validity of what Honoré de Balzac wrote: “The basis of human societies will always be the family “.

Theater studies, cultural history, sociopoetics and philology have converged to highlight the echoes between stage and history, especially in times of crisis within a community. Indeed, when the national body is damaged by a conflict, whatever its nature, the family unit – in its great diversity of forms – is often dissected on the boards, a chamber of resonance of concerns about the belonging of individuals to a community (Pelletieri). The crisis of the traditional family, the wealth of new models (Roudinesco) and the disintegration of its basic structure thus reflect and fuel the historical conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries. From then on, it is indeed the inclusion of the individual in a collective, vector of questions about identity (Ragué Arias), which is theatricalized and problematized in many Spanish-speaking plays. These depict on the one hand family and intergenerational tensions and, on the other hand, the tearing and recomposition of social ties (Barriera), especially after wars, exiles, migrations (Parola), struggles conceived as fratricides or any other conflict at the local or national level.

In recent years, the family has been at the heart of various scientific events within Hispanism[2], and beyond our disciplines, the question of the relationship to national history has been raised, but especially in the novel. In the extension of these benchmarks, it seems interesting to pay particular attention to the theater, as a space of representation and mirror of the nation. This symposium therefore proposes to consider, through theatre, the ways in which families relate to each other and appropriate their common past in relation to national history. Conversely, we will examine the impact of historical crises on family relationships and destinies. Papers may analyze, among other things: the representations of the internal and political conflicts that tear families apart (nuclear or larger); those of the tensions and revolts against the filial and ideological structure (envisaged as an alienating “closed place”); those of parricides or symbolic confrontations; but also those of reconciliations and family reunifications linked to history. This presupposes defining the contours of the family, making analyzes of Spanish-speaking theater resonate beyond borders and national specificities. The project aims to highlight the convergences of theater that weaves bridges between collective history, filiation and identification. In particular, it will be a question of questioning the universality of this metonymic relationship between family and nation (Bestard Comas), as well as the validity of the links and the feeling of belonging to the family and the nation in the context of historical and memorial crises. .

How does the Spanish-speaking scene reflect a renewed interaction between family, society and history? What does the family represent in the theater and what links does it designate exactly? What does this metonymy allow and how does the intimate cell make it possible to extrapolate the representativeness of a national functioning? How are changes in the image of generational ties on the contemporary Spanish-speaking scene symptomatic of new relationships with the idea of ​​nation? Does the redefinition of families in relation to the traditional model have an effect on the relationship of individuals to national history?

From various perspectives (texts, performances, reception, cultural history), the following axes, which are not intended to be exhaustive, constitute the lines of thought envisaged for this colloquium:

– Representations of family and social rifts: broken intergenerational ties, repetition of family patterns in relation to history, vertical relationships, exile and breakdown of the family unit, reunification or reconciliation.

– The scales of History: tensions between collective macro-History and more personal, intimate stories. Question of writing the past in a mirror between private and public.

– Private memory / public memory: memorial struggles and marginalization, official history, mechanisms of forgetting, family as a space for the transmission of counter-stories, families at the helm of research on the past.

– Testimony and document in historical theatre: question of the veracity of testimony, memories and experience, modality of documentary theatre.

– Relationship to the “family language”: beyond the languages ​​spoken in the family, interaction of private codes with public, national codes, defining a sub-community.

– New families: post-patriarchal families in Spanish and Latin American theatre, ideological transmission or going beyond family heritage.

Proposals for papers, in French or in Spanish (title + summary of approximately 300 words), should be sent before September 15, 2022 to :

Fanny Blin : [email protected]
Anne Laure Feuillastre: [email protected]

The answers will be communicated before November 2022.

Scientific Committee:

Fanny Blin, LISAA, Gustave Eiffel University

Dominique Breton, AMERIBER, Bordeaux Montaigne University

Laurence Breysse-Chanet, CRIMIC, Sorbonne University

Gabriela Cordone, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Fernando Doménech Rico, RESAD, Madrid.

Anne Laure Feuillastre, CRIMIC, Sorbonne University

Daniel Lecler, LISAA, Gustave Eiffel University

David Marcilhacy, CRIMIC, Sorbonne University

Cesar Oliva, University of Murcia

Isabelle Reck, ITI CREAA, University of Strasbourg

Diego Santos Sánchez, Complutense University of Madrid

[1] Julio Iglesias de Ussel, «The family and political change in Spain», Journal of Political Studies, no. 67, January-March 1990, p. 236.
[2] In particular for the conferences “Family(ies) in the contemporary Hispanic world” (University of Burgundy, 2017), “Families profanas, nuevas constelaciones en la literatura hispánica actual” (Universities of Lausanne and Strasbourg, 2017) or even “Migrations : a family story” (Paris-Nanterre University, 2018).

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