Convivial Fancies: The Performance of Gift-Giving in Netherlandish Table Plays
How did table plays change or transform their spectators mentally, especially when gift-giving was involved? How did they appeal to their spectators’ ability to perceive and think allegorically, and thus to imbue themselves and their surrounding world with non-literal, symbolic meanings? How were their spectators triggered to apply their ingenuity while engaging with the performance unfolding before their eyes?
‘Tafelspelen’ or ‘table plays’ were theatrical pieces of two to six hundred lines, in Dutch, staged throughout the Low Countries from the late fifteenth to the early seventeenth centuries. They mainly featured personifications who engaged in witty, spirited exposition, conversation, discussion or dispute – usually in an allegorical manner – on topics ranging from eating and feasting to the various occasions for indulging in these activities. In approximately half of the extant examples the discourse revolved around a gift, eventually to be presented to the person(s) in whose honour the banquet was hosted. This project will study how table plays in performance engrained allegorical thinking into their spectators’ minds and how figural connotations clung to the presented gifts and thus turned them into memory triggers.
1) Bart Ramakers, ‘Embodied Wits: The Representation of Deliberative Thought in Rhetoricians’ Drama’, in: Arjan van Dixhoorn, Samuel Mareel & Bart Ramakers (eds.), The Knowledge Culture of the Netherlandish Rhetoricians, special issue Renaissance Studies 32.1 (2018), 85-105.
2) Bart Ramakers, ‘Walk, Talk, Sit, Quit? On What Happens in Netherlandish Rhetoricians’ Plays’, in: Philip Butterworth & Katie Normington (eds.), Medieval Theatre Performance: Actors, Dancers, Automata and Audiences, Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2017, 35-51.
3) Bart Ramakers, ‘Books, Beads and Bitterness: Making Sense of Gifts in Two Table Plays by Cornelis Everaert’, in: Sabrina Corbellini, Margriet Hoogvliet & Bart Ramakers (eds.), Discovering the Riches of the Word: Religious Reading in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, Leiden: Brill, 2015, 141-170.
Personal page: https://www.rug.nl/staff/b.a.m.ramakers/