Fellow in the Context of the DRS Fellowship Program Postdoc International (POINT) at the Dahlem Humanities Center
March 2016 – February 2018
Watching the human comedy. Theatrical experience and social knowledge in France from Diderot to the "freedom of the theatres" (1750s-1864)
My first objective is to provide a cultural history of theatrical experience in France from the emergence of a new dramatic theory, which revised the boundaries between public theatre and domestic sphere, to the liberalisation of theatres in 1864, when the abolition of the licensing system transformed the way authorities and subjects interacted in the domain of public culture. This objective implies a revision of the notion of spectator's experience, which will take into account social practices related to theatregoing, as they were constructed by the material conditions of the theatre and by different social agents, such as, for instance, censors, theatre administration, and press. While relativizing the centrality of onstage action in the playhouse, this study aims to evaluate the role of complex theatrical experience in the formation of social knowledge and communities. Therefore, what may seem like no more than a contribution to the history of theatre will in fact contribute to a wider qualitative social history.
Alexei holds two doctoral degrees; one in Russian Literature awarded from the Russian State University in the Humanities (RGGU, Moscow) in 2009; and, one in French and Comparative Literature from the Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris IV) (2012). He has started working on his POINT project at the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin) and at the Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris).
He has previously 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. His first monograph Les spectacles francophones à Saint-Pétersbourg (1743-1796). L’invention d’une société will be published with the Voltaire Foundation, in the series ‘Oxford University Studies of the Enlightenment’ in July 2016.