Keynote Address

Bakhtin on the Actor and the Role (theater as our most intimate self-other relation)

two cartoon portraits of Mikhail Bakhtin on a white and teal background

Caryl Emerson

A. Watson Armour III University Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures Emeritus, Princeton University

Thursday, February 25th at 4:00pm
Daley Library, Conference Room 1-470

The Bakhtin we know best is something of a lyricophobe and theatrophobe. This is surprising, because he loves the act of looking. So many of his scenarios rely on visualized communion. He also cares deeply about embodiment. Does he care about the tasks that confront the actor? Not the disruptive fool or improvising clown of carnival (carnival is theater only in the capacious sense of performance art), but the professionally trained artist whose task it is to perform a play script on stage? This presentation will discuss two suggestive places where Bakhtin addresses the actor’s art: in his discussions of self-other relations from the 1920s, and in some dark ruminations on Shakespearean tragedy from the 1940s. Bakhtin has a theatrical imagination, even if he loves novels more.

Reception to follow keynote address