An interdisciplinary platform for historical research on film, theatre, dance and musical performance.
Cultures of Spectacles is an international interdisciplinary research community of scholars working on a diversity of spectacles. Our research is generally historic and focusses on the era from the beginning of the belle époque (appr. 1870) to the definitive breakthrough of television. Before performances or spectacles moved to the living room with the advent of television, they were the prerogative of public spaces such as cinema's, theatres, concert halls, circuses, music-halls, variety theatres and multi-functional spaces such as village halls, fairs or squares. Despite variations in their dispositive, what unites these spaces is that they host attractions, or spectacles that were either performed live or projected in front of a living audience. Individual members of these audiences usually belonged to different audience groups as well: people not only went to the theatre, but also the circus or to a music performance. Moreover, very often different forms of spectacle were often consumed in the same space and they were even part of the same show. In the early 19th century for example, films were part of variety programs; circus - and vaudeville acts were performed at fancy fairs alongside musical attractions, film screenings, freak shows, etc… Despite their commonalities, these different forms of spectacle are mostly studied separately, in well-defined academic disciplines (e.g., film -, dance -, performance – and theatre studies, cultural history, heritage studies, music history…).
In bringing scholars from these different fields together, we aim to break down the disciplinary boundaries between a wide range of domains focussing on different types of spectacle and open the way for future interdisciplinary research on cultures of spectacle.