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YES WE CANON! A Discursive Analysis of Canon Debates in Post-war Flemish Theatre (1945-2010)

Research project

Fellow: Hoet Ciska

Supervisor: Van den Dries Luk

Duration: 01/10/2011 - 30/09/2013

This project investigates repeated debates over what is to be called a theatre classic in Flanders between 1945 to the present. It does so not only because such debates have never been seriously investigated although they have occurred at regular intervals in post-war Flemish history; but also because such debates are revealing of a broader, fundamental uncertainty of the place and meaning of theatre (subsidies) in society: should theatre strive for social relevance, or should it only be 'art as art'? Similar questions are now on the table in various European countries experiencing an outburst of public discussion on how national identity, shared values and artistic heritage (should) speak to each other.


A recent Flemish illustration of this is the 'repertoire debate' that kicked up dust during the last theatre season. Through a discursive analysis of these debates in Flemish history and on the basis of a digital archive of journal articles and cultural policy documents, the present project will attempt to sketch evolving conceptions of theatre classics, their impact on subsidy decisions and theatrical practice, and the ways in which the resulting theatrical canon interacted with the construction of a Flemish identity in Belgium.

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