Neither Locke nor Diderot: Sincerity, Toleration, and a Theory of Acting

With Una's Lecturer Jane Taylor
2014-2015
Image from the play, Ubu and the Truth Commission

Jane Taylor holds the Wole Soyinka Chair of Drama and Theatre Studies at Leeds University. A South African, she has worked extensively both in the creative arts and in literary and cultural criticism. With both creative and scholarly interest in puppetry, Taylor has written plays for Handspring Puppet Company, such as Ubu and the Truth Commission, and has edited a critical study of the performance troupe. Taylor is currently working on a large-scale study of the performance of sincerity, examining the impact of the Reformation on modes of self-presentation.

The seminar will begin with a consideration of the anti-theatrical prejudice and the impact of the Reformation and the Counter Reformation on the performance of sincerity. Discussions will be organized around a series of distinct sites, aesthetic, juridical and medical, through which questions of the sincere and the authentic were tested in the early modern era. Questions of theology will be considered, particularly with reference to the substance of conversion, and the seminar will investigate the emergence of Acting Theory; the birth of the novel; traditions of painting; the anatomy lesson; and discourses on evidence and proof as legal categories.

The last two meetings will consider the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in an exploration of how we might have arrived where we are, especially with regard to questions of sincerity and martyrdom, terror, and truth.

This Spring 2015 seminar is cross-listed in TDPS, Comparative Literature, and Rhetoric and will meet on Wednesdays, 10am-1pm, April 1-April 29, 2015. Please consult the individual departments for current enrollment information.

Townsend Center sponsored Graduate Seminars are open to all qualified UC Berkeley graduate students; however, unusually qualified undergraduate students may be eligible to attend. Undergraduate students wishing to register for the graduate seminar with Jane Taylor must meet all of the following conditions:

  1. Have already taken the three upper division courses in their major, with a GPA of at least 3.6 average in those courses
  2. Have the prior written approval of the Townsend Center
  3. Understand that the graduate seminar is taken as an “elective,” with a grading option of P/NP.

Interested undergraduates should submit a completed application to Teresa Stojkov, Associate Director of the Townsend Center, via email at tstojkov@berkeley.edu. Transcripts should be sent electronically with the application or delivered in hard copy to the Townsend Center, 220 Stephens Hall.