S:PAM Lecture #30: Prof. Dr. Bram Van Oostveldt (Ghent University, Theatre Studies)

27-02-2020 from 16:00 to 18:30
KASK & Conservatorium – CIRQUE Auditorium, Campus Bijloke Jozef Kluskensstraat 2, 9000 Ghent
S:PAM - Studies in Performing Arts & Media
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S:PAM, Studies in Performing Arts and Media, regularly invites scholarly and practice-based researchers to give an open lecture and present their latest research under the umbrella of 'S:PAM lectures'.

A Spy, a Book, and a Speaking Palace (and What to Do With Them)

In 1720 a most peculiar book was published, Versailles Immortalisé par les Merveilles Parlantes des Bâtiments, Jardins, Bosquets, Parcs, Statues, Groupes, Termes & Vases de Marbre, de Pierre & de Métaux, Pièces d’eaux, Tableaux & Peintures qui sont dans le Château de Versailles, de Trianon, de la Ménagerie & de Marly. It was written by Jean-Baptiste Monicart, an author of whom we know little, except that he was involved in espionage, counter-espionage and financial swindle. The book has never been studied, although it is a luxury two volume folio-edition with numerous plates. At first sight, it seems to fit into the larger tradition of guides and descriptions of Versailles that were written during Louis XIV’s reign and shortly after. However, form and content differ greatly from these traditional descriptions of Versailles. In Monicart’s book, everything, from the smallest door-handle to the largest pillar, from rooftops to chimneys, from paintings to statues, speaks and sings in monologues and dialogues. It turns the palace into an overall theatrical experience that starts off as a panegyric for Louis XIV, but evolves more and more in an uncanny story that turns the palace into a most disconcerting cabinet of horror. The questions that rise here are manifold: How to approach this strange book and its enigmatic author? What were the purposes and messages of this book? What could have been its influences? And above all, what does one do with a book and an author that have disappeared into the depths of history but suddenly resurge in the hands of a 21st -century scholar and nowhere seem to fit?

Bram Van Oostveldt (1974) studied Theatre Studies and Art History at Ghent University. In 2005, he obtained his PhD on the concept of naturalness in 18th-century French theatre theory and philosophy. From 2007 until 2012 he worked at the Department of Theatre Studies at the University of Amsterdam. From 2013 until 2017 he was Senior Researcher in the ERC-project Elevated Minds: The Sublime in the Public Arts in Seventeenth-Century Paris and Amsterdam at the Art History Department of Leiden University. In 2019 he is appointed as professor at the Department of Theatre Studies at Ghent University. He published widely on the intersections between the performing arts and the visual arts in Early Modern Europe.​


Free entrance, but registration requi​red​ via UGent Event Manager: