Back to homepage

Fremde Helden auf europäischen Bühnen 1600-1900


In the stage figure of the exotic hero – or of the exotic heroine – heroic exceptionality intersects with the perception of cultural difference. In figures who are perceived as heroic but not classified as ‘domestic’ in the given context, heroization mechanisms overlap with those of marginalization and dissociation. Other figures are recognizable as “heroic” but stand for value systems that unsettlingly deviate from familiar ones. In both instances, the confrontation of the heroic with the exotic offers much ground for interpretation that must be explored.

The conference “Fremde Helden auf europäischen Bühnen 1600–1900” (Exotic Heroes on the European Stage) asks how the characteristic categories of the heroic and of the exotic are intertwined with one another. How are signs of cultural difference applied to the heroic? What specific semantics or aspects of the heroic can be determined in the exotic heroic figures? How does a heroizing representation also vice versa explain constructions of the exotic anew and what profiles arise from different situations of culture contact (for instance war, trade, mission)? How are exotic heroines and heroes performatively coded on stage? In what cultural, aesthetic and political contexts are they ultimately most prominent? And to what extent can such differentiations contribute to communicating the heroic as cultural greatness?

At the interdisciplinary overlap of literature, music, and theater studies, this conference focuses on the stages of European (music) theater on which the exotic heroic figures were collectively received, but at the same time portrayed in order to distance them and thereby became reimaginable. In a contrastive, diachronic approach, paradigmatic case studies from the 17th to the end of the 19th century will be presented and discussed together.

< back to overview