Symposium Circus and the Avant-Gardes

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Call for Papers
May 13, 2020 to May 14, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Humanities, Literature, Popular Culture Studies, Theatre & Performance History / Studies

Call for Papers
Circus and the Avant-Gardes
"Marginalisation and glorification" (Part 2*)

Symposium: May 13 & 14, 2020
Deadline for submissions: April 3, 2020

The performance practice of the circus in the early 20th century was formative for the avant-gardes. This symposium examines how the aesthetics of circus arts affected and competed with the theatre of the Russian and Western avant-gardes, and to what extent the circus served as an inspiration for multimedia avant-garde productions. In what ways were the stage and body concepts perpetuated in the works of the avant-garde artists? What were the references and intersections between the performance practices of the circus and the theatre of the avant-gardes? Why have the works of the circus artists around 1900 as well as the connection between circus and the Western avant-gardes attracted only very little and unsystematic interest within the according fields of research? In which contexts and media do we find traces of these performance practices today and what is the situation regarding the availability of relevant historical sources?

Presentations could explore the following (and other) topics:

  • Aesthetics and practices of circus arts around 1900
  • The cross-fertilisation of body and stage concepts as well as scenographies and stage technologies between the works of circus and avant-garde artists
  • (The role or function of) circus references in avant-garde theatre
  • Clowns in the circus and in performances of the avant-gardes
  • (Nowadays) traces of the historical performance practices and research gaps
  • etc.


The deadline

for abstracts (max. 300 words) and short biographies (max. 200 words) is

April 03, 2020.


Please send your documents to

M.A. Mirjam Hildbrand ( and

Dr. Anna-Sophie Jürgens (


We are looking forward to your proposals!

Mirjam Hildbrand and Anna-Sophie Jürgens


Link to the call:


The symposium is supported by the “Nachwuchsförderungs-Projektpool” of the University of Bern.

* A first symposium on "Circus and the Avant-garde" takes place at the Freie Universität Berlin within the Cluster of Excellence “Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective” in March 2020. The call was circulated separately.

Contact Info: 

Mirjam Hildbrand, Institute of Theater Studies, University of Bern