History of Theatre Studies – Swiss/Austrian Networks and Contexts

This project proposes investigating the history of German-language theatre studies in Switzerland and Austria from a decentralised perspective. By viewing the topic from the margins, we will be able to look at constellations, contexts and exclusionary mechanisms that have not yet been taken into account. The prerequisite for this perspective is the ineluctable fact that German-language theatre studies were first established during National Socialism.

We here confront the fact that theatre studies were supported on account of being considered ideologically highly relevant during the Nazi era; this in turn poses questions about whether exclusionary mechanisms founded on anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, misogyny or anti-democratic beliefs continued to be relevant when this discipline spread across the German-speaking countries after 1945. The resultant research questions are complex and heterogeneous, and have not yet been taken into account in our discipline. For this reason, the present project pursues an innovative approach, utilising a methodological mix of comparative source analysis, historical contextualisation and digital humanities. It combines research perspectives from theatre studies, transnational history, memory studies, gender studies, queer studies and cultural studies with methodological-theoretical foundations, analyses and procedures of the digital humanities. To this end, a digital research platform will be made available to the community in order to promote and ensure a permanent, reflexive approach to the history of the discipline. This platform will serve to make parallel historical constellations visible that can then be mapped out on the basis of theatre researchers and their epistemes that were either included or excluded in the discipline. This project, with its five sub-projects, aims to reveal transnational networks by examining fields of theatre research that have barely been considered up to now, including exhibitions and non-university societies and congresses. This project will be located in the following fields: the history of scholarship, exile, and Holocaust, gender and queer studies.