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Roundtable
Nov 11, 2021 12:00 Noon - 01:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211111T1200 20211111T1350 America/Chicago Theater, Genre, and Urban Geography in Paris, 1800–1900

Within the historiography of nineteenth-century Parisian theater, issues of genre are inseparable from the policies that shaped political and social institutions in the city. But focusing these issues around the Opéra inadvertently reinforces nineteenth-century hierarchies that privileged centered, state-funded theaters over the cultural politics of independent institutions. Such a narrative is particularly limiting within the context of urban change in Paris. Urbanization-that is, the "creative destruction" of infrastructures, communities, and sensory experiences-generated new opportunities and challenges for Paris's sprawling theater industry, which in turn inspires questions about sociability, genre, and aesthetics in the city.

This roundtable explores the connections between genre and geography in Paris through an examination of what we call non-canonic or "decentered" theatrical spaces: hippodromes, salons, cafés, and commercial theaters. Musical events within these spaces reveal unexplored connections between Parisian theater deregulation and urban planning. Threading the needle between theatrical and urban policy, the panel explores how Parisian spectacle mediated aspects of public urban life. While imperial French politics revolved around ideologies of centralization-from networked boulevards to the Opéra to colonization abroad-a series of civic deregulation policies eventually defined theatrical genres in tandem with their design-intensive performance spaces. We ultimately ask how generic and geographic borders shaped how the city was perceived and policed.

The roundtable features four ten-minute case studies, followed by four five-minute responses and thirty minutes of ope ...

AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org


Within the historiography of nineteenth-century Parisian theater, issues of genre are inseparable from the policies that shaped political and social institutions in the city. But focusing these issues around the Opéra inadvertently reinforces nineteenth-century hierarchies that privileged centered, state-funded theaters over the cultural politics of independent institutions. Such a narrative is particularly limiting within the context of urban change in Paris. Urbanization-that is, the "creative destruction" of infrastructures, communities, and sensory experiences-generated new opportunities and challenges for Paris's sprawling theater industry, which in turn inspires questions about sociability, genre, and aesthetics in the city.


This roundtable explores the connections between genre and geography in Paris through an examination of what we call non-canonic or "decentered" theatrical spaces: hippodromes, salons, cafés, and commercial theaters. Musical events within these spaces reveal unexplored connections between Parisian theater deregulation and urban planning. Threading the needle between theatrical and urban policy, the panel explores how Parisian spectacle mediated aspects of public urban life. While imperial French politics revolved around ideologies of centralization-from networked boulevards to the Opéra to colonization abroad-a series of civic deregulation policies eventually defined theatrical genres in tandem with their design-intensive performance spaces. We ultimately ask how generic and geographic borders shaped how the city was perceived and policed.


The roundtable features four ten-minute case studies, followed by four five-minute responses and thirty minutes of open discussion. Annelies Andries examines Paris's first hippodrome as a site where commercial ingenuity, military spectacle, and location fed a mass aesthetic of Bonapartist nostalgia. Jacek Blaszkiewicz revisits the café-concert, a popular if misunderstood institution that fused the cultures of spectacle, sociability, and drink. Mark Everist brings questions of genre, power, and space into alignment in a study of the emergence of _opéra de salon_ during the Second Empire. Tommaso Sabbatini outlines the evolution of _féerie_ with original vocal music over the last third of the century, from Hervé and Offenbach to Gaston Serpette. 


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