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Symposium reflects on social science aspect of theater

October 24, 2008

A symposium designed for faculty and advanced graduate students whose work intersects with early modern history, philosophy, mathematics, economics and literature, is scheduled from 2-5 p.m., Nov. 7 in the Social Sciences Building, room 109.

The symposium, “Early Modern Theater and Knowledge Production,” will challenge the notion that theater is merely a site for cultural reflection by examining the ways it functions as a site for the production of social, scientific, and political knowledge.

The symposium will feature presentations by four scholars whose work cross disciplinary boundaries and to reveal surprising connections between theatrical and non-literary texts, such as atlases, economic treatises, encyclopedias, and geometry manuals. The presentations will be followed by an open discussion of the methodological challenges faced by scholars attempting to reconstruct playgoing as a material, spatial and social practice.

The featured speakers are:

• Jonathan Gil Harris, professor of English at George Washington University and the author of several books including, “Untimely Matter in the Time of Shakespeare.”

• Bradley Ryner, assistant professor of English at Arizona State University and the author of several articles including, “The Panoramic View in Mercantile Thought: Or, A Merchant’s Map of Cymbeline.”

• Henry S. Turner, associate professor of English at Rutgers University and the author of several books including, “Shakespeare’s Double Helix.”

• William N. West, associate professor of English at Northwestern University and the author of several books including “Theatres and Encyclopedias in Early Modern Europe.”

Symposium participants are also invited to take a special 30-minute tour of ASU’s Decision Theatre at 11 a.m., Nov. 7.

To participate, contact Ayanna Thompson, associate professor of English, at

This symposium is sponsored by ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of English, Herberger College School of Theatre and Film, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Institute for Humanities Research, School of International Letters and Cultures,  Department of History, Decision Theatre, and Humanities and Arts in the School of Applied Arts and Sciences.