I am excited to announce that I will be presenting a paper as part of the New Scholars Forum at the International Federation of Theatre Research conference in Stockholm this coming week. This paper marks the beginning thoughts towards my dissertation project. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with my colleagues and getting their feedback. Here’s the abstract for the paper:
Upstaging History: Uncovering the Bacherl Scandal through Micro-History
When Franz Dingelstedt presented Fetcher von Ravenna at the Munich Court Theatre in 1855, he attributed authorship of the anonymous manuscript to the well-known Austrian playwright Fredrich Halm. However, a local schoolmaster, Franz Bacherl, claimed that Halm stole the manuscript, which Bacherl submitted to a contest Halm held. Bacherl’s claim steadily gained support among the people of Munich who rose up in public protests, which ultimately resulted in King Maximillian’s dismissal of Dingelstedt from his position as Intendant.
The Bacherl-Scandal has been excluded from most nineteenth-century German theatre histories. Unlike the much studied theatre battles between the classics and romantics surrounding Hugo’s Hernani, the issues involved in the Bacherl-Scandal did not have major consequences on the form and aesthetics of German theatre. Therefore, the scandal has been upstaged because it does not fit into a historiographical frame, which focuses on the development of dramatic literature, scenography, acting style, etc. in the transition from Weimar Classicism to Naturalism. This has led many scholars to ignore the scandal, while those who do mention it dismiss it as insignificant. However, the issues involved were significant enough for the people to take to the streets in public protest. How can we reframe the historical narrative to account for a theatrical event whose major significance lies outside the playhouse?
Micro-historians, such as Carlo Ginsberg, Robert Darnton, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and Jill Lepore, have demonstrated how detailed examination of seemingly insignificant events and documents can uncover contradictions and complexities of a society and reveal rich histories buried in traditional historiography. In this presentation, I will lay out a justification for an in-depth study of the Bacherl-Scandal and demonstrate how a micro-historical approach can expand our understanding of the theatrical event and its complicated relationship to the public life of a society.