Alexei Evstratov

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2014/2015
discipline Cultural Studies
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Oxford, Faculty of Medieval & Modern Languages

Research project

Fictions of Order: Social Representations in the European Theatre from the Napoleonic Wars to the Russian Revolution

 

My project looks at the history of theatergoing in France told by theatregoers themselves. Two very general questions frame my research: (i) How does what one today would call “entertainment” inform individuals’ knowledge of the social world and their place in it? (ii) In this respect what are those specific features of performances whereby members of the audience share the same geographic space (e.g. movie theater, stadium) and can see and interact with each other? To put it more synthetically – what happens when an individual encounters a fictional representation of social reality as part of an audience, and how is it important for the individual’s aesthetic experience and everyday life?

 

My investigation into the cultural history of theatergoing focuses is on the “long” eighteenth century and, more specifically, on the French Revolution.

Eighteenth-century France was the paragon of a “cultural empire”; its domestic policies and international status were in many ways grounded in the prestige of francophone cultural production. While the French Revolution changed the political regime and reconfigured social groups and institutions, theater has enabled me to observe continuity in the models of subjective perception and political domination, which need to be further explored and interpreted.

 

In many ways eighteenth-century notions of drama and performance inform how we commonly think about social representations, subjective perception and the collective response to spectacles as well as the distinction between private and public spheres. It was during this period that institutionalized theatrical performances rapidly gained new audiences both geographically (from big urban centers to national and international peripheries) and socially (from urban elites to a broader range of audiences). This had a strong impact on certain technologies of performance, from theater architecture to acting and stage effects.

 

Before the emergence of cinema and mass sporting spectacles, theater also was the master medium shaping and disseminating social and political representations. Starting with Aristotle, a theater audience was supposed to represent the entire polity – that is to say, members of society involved in public life. An investigation into how this notion changed over time provides insight into more general social change. From the point of view of the practices, there was a tension between the now obvious reason for the gathering – to attend a performance – and other things taking place in the playhouse (including the social display of status, business transactions, flirting). Theater thus provides a valuable site for understanding how art acquired autonomous value and became a commodity.

 

Biography

 

Alexei Evstratov holds two doctoral degrees; one in Russian Literature awarded from the Russian State University in the Humanities (RGGU, Moscow); and, one in French and Comparative Literature from the Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris IV). He has worked at the University of Oxford as part of the project The Creation of a Europeanized Elite: Public Role and Subjective Self, and at the Centre Roland Mousnier (Paris-Sorbonne University/CNRS) as scientific coordinator of a project on French in scientific and intellectual life of Russia. He taught at the University of Rennes 2 and at the University of Paris 8.

 

Selected publications

 

The Creation of a Europeanized Elite in Russia, 1762-1825: Public Role and Subjective Self , with A. Schönle & A. Zorin (eds.), Northern Illinois University Press, DeKalb, 2015.

 

Rossiia v XVIII stoletii, vyp. IV, with F.D. Liechtenhan & E. Rytchalovskii (eds), Drevnehranilische, Moscow, 2013. [in Russian]

 

‘Drama Translation in Eighteenth-Century Russia: Masters and Servants on the Court Stage in the 1760s’, in L. Burnett & E. Lygo (eds), Art as Accommodation: Literary Translation in Russia, Peter Lang,  Oxford, 2013, pp. 31-54.

 

‘Pierre le Grand au théâtre, entre tragédie encomiastique et comédie bourgeoise’, with P. Frantz, in D. Alexander et al. (eds.), Rossiia i Franciia : XVIII-XX vv. Lotmanovskie chtenia, RGGU, Moscow, 2013, pp. 28-49.

 

‘La réception du théâtre de Regnard à la cour de Catherine II’, in Ch. Mazouer & D. Quéro (eds), Jean-François Regnard (1655-1709), Armand Colin, Paris, 2012, pp. 303-326.

 

‘La mise en scène de la cour: la scène et la salle dans le théâtre de cour. Etude du théâtre russe à l’aube du règne de Catherine II’, in P. Frantz & T. Wynn (eds), La scène, la salle et les coulisses dans le théâtre du XVIIIe siècle en France, Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris, 2011, pp. 235-246.

 

 ‘“Ad Urbanitatem informare”: la langue et l’éducation dans les comédies de Catherine II (exemple de O temps!)’, Histoire. Epistémologie. Langage, vol. 32, n°1, 2010, pp. 13-29.

 

‘ The Topical Sense of Catherine II’s Comedies. Commentary on Oh These Times! (1772)’,Vestnik RGGU. Seriia Zhurnalistika. Literaturnaia kritika, vol. 11, 2009, pp. 212-218. [in Russian]

 

institut

junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline Social Anthropology
2017
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline History
2013
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline Music
2016
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline Linguistics
2012