In today’s world, new forms of citizenship form and express their political agency through creative activities and artistic articulations. Political and social movements assert themselves through performances, using a variety of artistic forms to shape their communities. At the same time, ‘citizenship’, ‘political agency’ and ‘social relevance’ emerge as key elements within artistic practice as well as within academic research. The workshop will explore the performance of citizenship in recent times as well as its historical forms. The concept of ‘citizen’ emerged after the French Revolution and was central to political and social reform all over Europe in the late 18th and 19th centuries: a way of countering the late absolutist powers. At that time, theatre, opera, and fine arts were important fields for the establish-ment of citizenship, dealing openly with questions of equality, human rights, freedom of speech, political education and the political agency of the citizen. How may this legacy of democratic citizenship and enlightened thinking inspire today’s political movements? What role did artistic practices and cultural performances play in the shaping of new forms of citizenship in the past, and what role do they play today?

The symposium “Performing Citizenship: Theatre and Opera around 1800” will have an historical focus, including lectures by guest scholars from the University of Illinois and also scholars from the Department of Culture and Aesthetics. It is open to everybody.


10.00–11.00 Meike Wagner (Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University) Performing Citizenship and Amateur Theatricals around 1800

11.00–12.00 Martin Schneider (Hamburg University)
Performed Citizenship in the Hamburg Theatre Scandal 1801

12.00–13.00 Lunch Break

13.00–14.00 Carl Hendrik Niekerk (University of Illinois)
Enlightened Citizenship according to Lessing and Mozart

14.00–15.00 Magnus Tessing Schneider (Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University) 
Cosmopolitanism and Democratic Sensibility: The Theatre of Calzabigi