GENETIC CRITICISM IN AN INTERDISCIPLINARY CONTEXT:
LITERATURE, VISUAL ARTS, THEATRE, MUSIC
March 30-31, 2007
Room 25, Smith Memorial Hall, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Not only the final outcome but the process of creative endeavor has long attracted attention in various artistic disciplines, but only recently has the potential of coordinated research of this kind begun to be explored in detail. The most rigorous basis for the study of artistic creativity comes not from anecdotal or autobiographical reports, but from original handwritten sketches and drafts and preliminary studies, as well as from revised manuscripts and typescripts, corrected proof sheets, and similar primary sources. Especially since the eighteenth century, writers, composers, and painters have been much concerned with originality of style, which has encouraged intense preliminary efforts preceding and leading toward the production of finished artistic works.
The conference “Genetic Criticism in an Interdisciplinary Context: Literature, Visual Arts, Theatre, Music,” is based on a collaboration between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Centre nationale de recherche scientifique in Paris; the conference co-organizers are William Kinderman (UIUC) and Almuth Grésillon (CNRS). That “critique génétique” has been a focus of the CNRS is evident from the journal Genesis: Revue internationale de critique génétique. Kinderman is General Editor of the Beethoven Sketchbook Series at the University of Illinois Press, and has written numerous studies exploring the compositional process of various composers.
The interdisciplinary dimension of the conference will be enhanced by the presence of leading scholars in literature and the visual arts as well as music. A special feature of the conference are the workshop performances of the new play by distinguished playwright Moisés Kaufman, “33 Variations”. Kaufman’s play explores the creative process of Beethoven as situated at the intersection of life and art, and he thoughtfully probes our own engagement with the artistic legacy of this brilliant, fascinating, witty, and sometimes elusive composer. Still a work in progress, “33 Variations” will premiere this August at the Arena Stage in Washington DC.
Crucial and much appreciated support of these activities has been provided by the UIUC/CNRS Cooperative Research Program, as administered by International Programs and Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and by the Division des relations européennes et internationales (DREI) of the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). Additional generous support comes from the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of Music at the University of Illinois. The three-week workshop of Kaufman’s play “33 Variations” is a truly special collaborative effort involving the Tectonic Theater Project, the Arena Stage, and the University of Illinois, made possible with extensive backing from the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, the College of Fine and Applied Arts, and the Department of Theater at UIUC. Many individuals helped facilitate these events. Especially indispensable support came from Bob Graves (Dean, College of Fine and Applied Arts), Mike Ross (Director, KCPA), Tom Mitchell (Interim Head, Department of Theatre), and Karen Quisenberry (Production, KCPA). Warmest thanks also to Geoffrey Merritt (Parasol Records), Karl Kramer (Director, School of Music), Richard Powers, and John Bonadies.