KONF: Staging Justice: Trials and the Law on the German Stage (18th–21st Century), London (26. – 27.11.2019)

Daniele Vecchiato's picture


Trials and theatre plays share affinities on many levels. They both occur in a specific time and place, they both consist of performing and spectating, and they are both concerned with processing and understanding what we call ‘experience’. In the German-speaking lands – where Schiller’s highly influential concept of the “Gerichtsbarkeit der Bühne” (jurisdiction of the stage) inaugurated a connection between the aesthetic, the moral, and even political role of theatre in the late 18th century – trial, interrogation and punishment scenes have recurrently been integrated and reflected upon in dramatic texts. Prominent examples include Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s “Götz von Berlichingen”, Heinrich von Kleist’s “Der zerbrochene Krug”, Peter Weiss’ “Die Ermittlung”, as well as more recent endeavours, such as Ferdinand von Schirach’s “Terror” and Milo Rau’s re-enactments.
By discussing and analysing the way in which these and other plays have encouraged reflections on legal processes and the institution of law on the German stage from the 18th century to the present day, this conference sets out to examine how literary discourses on justice have evolved in different historical and epistemological contexts. In particular, it will help define and assess how law is interpreted and applied in the texts, how the relations between law, society and power are outlined, and to what extent the staging of trials serves as a dramaturgic tool to comment on (and possibly criticise) contemporary legal practices.
Building on the “performative turn” in recent Law and Literature scholarship, contributions will offer in-depth textual analyses of exemplary courtroom dramas in historical or comparative perspective, as well as addressing more general aspects, such as the (a)symmetries between the dramatic urgency of legal processes and performance, the relations between fiction and reality in documentarian theatre, and the strategies with which authors and theatre practitioners raise the spectators’ awareness on juridical and moral questions.

REGISTRATION: https://staging-justice-conference.eventbrite.co.uk/


26th NOVEMBER 2019
River Room, King’s College London, Strand Campus, London WC2R 2LS

13.30 Registration of arriving delegates and Refreshments

14.00 Dr Daniele Vecchiato (King’s College London)
Opening Remarks

Session One: The Age of Goethe
(Chair: Dr Sebastian Truskolaski, King’s College London)

14.20 Professor Matthew Bell (King’s College London)
Society and the Sources of Legality in Goethe’s “Die natürliche Tochter”

14.50 Professor Alexander Košenina (Leibniz University Hanover)
For the Sake of Law and Justice: Christian Felix Weiße’s “Der Krug geht so lange zu Wasser, bis er zerbricht” as a Model for Kleist’s “Der zerbrochne Krug”

15.20 Dr Elystan Griffiths (University of Birmingham)
Kleist’s “Der zerbrochne Krug”: Justice amid Shards

15.50 Discussion

16.20 Tea and Coffee Break

Session Two: 19th and 20th Century
(Chair: Dr Catherine Smale, King’s College London)

16.40 Dr Benedict Schofield (King’s College London)
Displacing Justice? Looking for the Law in Gustav Freytag’s Mid-19th Century Popular Dramas

17.10 Professor Laura Bradley (University of Edinburgh)

Judging Onstage Spectatorship: Trial Scenes in Brecht’s Epic Theatre

17.40 Professor Benjamin Wihstutz (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz)
Reporting, Testimony, Judgment: Intersections Between Theatre and Tribunal in Documentary Theatre of the 1960s

18.10 Discussion

18.40 Wine Reception
19.30 Conference Dinner

27th NOVEMBER 2019
River Room, King’s College London, Strand Campus, London WC2R 2LS

Session Three: 21st Century
(Chair: Professor Matthew Bell, King’s College London)

09.30 Dr Daniele Vecchiato (King’s College London)
Experts of Justice and Emancipated Spectators: Rimini Protokoll’s “Zeugen!” and Ferdinand von Schirach’s “Terror”

10.00 Dr Richard McClelland (University of Bristol)
Between Theatre and Courtroom: Citational Practices in Milo Rau's “Zürcher Prozesse”

10.30 Dr Dora Osborne (University of St Andrews)
Staging Trials: The Work of Andres Veiel

11.00 Discussion

11.30 Tea and Coffee Break

Session Four: Postcolonial Perspectives
(Chair: Dr Benedict Schofield, King’s College London)

11.50 Dr Azadeh Sharifi (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
Remapping German Colonial History Through the Theatricalisation of Protest

12.20 Dr Lizzie Stewart (King’s College London)
Translating In/Justice Between London and Berlin: Wolfram Lotz’s “The Ridiculous Darkness”

12.50 Discussion

13.10 Conclusions

13.30 Buffet Lunch and Networking


The conference takes place within the framework of the project VehmeLit – Legal Cultures and Literary Trials in the Age of Goethe, based at King’s Department of German. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 744413.
The conference is hosted by King’s Department of German and the Centre for Modern Literature and Culture. It was awarded a Conference Support Grant by King’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities.



Redaktion: Constanze Baum – Lukas Büsse – Mark-Georg Dehrmann – Nils Gelker – Markus Malo – Alexander Nebrig – Johannes Schmidt

Diese Ankündigung wurde von H-GERMANISTIK [Mark-Georg Dehrmann] betreut – editorial-germanistik@mail.h-net.msu.edu