Alison Calhoun on the dramaturgy of French Classical Tragedy

Alison Calhoun is an ACLS New Faculty fellowship recipient and visiting professor in Indiana University’s Department of French and Italian. Now that her end of her fellowship term is approaching, she is competing with her fellow fellows for a tenure track position in FRIT. This job talk is a tool to give her department and the university an idea of her reserach topics, teaching methods, and connection with the university. I imagine it will be ~1 hour lecture with some interaction aimed at an audience familiar with, but not necessarily expert in French/Early Modern Theatre.

Alison is also producing an authentic French Court Ballet with the Early Music Program at IU Jacobs School of Music in April. I find her delightful and highly recommend both events:

Set design for Act 5 of Pierre Corneille's Andromède

A postcard featuring  the set design for Act V of Pierre Corneille’s Andromède as first performed on 1 February 1650 by the Troupe Royale at the Petit-Bourbon in Paris. [1]

“French Classical Tragedy in the Face of Italian Stagecraft: The Case of Corneille’s Andromède”

A job talk by Dr. Alison Calhoun

Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012 | 4:00 pm
Oak Room, Indiana Memorial Union

Lecture followed by reception

After two overwhelmingly successful Italian operas adorned the Parisian stages in 1645 (La Finta Pazza) and 1647 (Orfeo), Mazarin commissioned Pierre Corneille to write a tragedy in French that made use of Orfeo’s stage machines and also included music.  Although Corneille was willing to work within these constraints, creating a play with undeniably marvelous sets and machines, he refused to make his audience suspend their disbelief to the extent of the Italian dramatists, whose operas appeared to have no regard for the rules of classical drama. In this light, Andromède (1650) is an emblematic example of a play incorporating textual strategies that both attenuate and unify the musical and spectacular elements on stage.

This presentation will illustrate how Corneille appropriated Italian stagecraft in the composition of Andromède without ignoring the rules of verisimilitude and decorum, by textually guiding his spectator to accept greater forms of marvel and spectacle. In the process, Corneille extended the strict limits of classical tragedy and, in a larger context, broadened the boundaries of Early Modern fiction.

If you have a disability and need assistance, accommodations can be made to meet most needs. Please call 855-5458 or e-mail

Dr. Alison Calhoun, Department of French & Italian

Dr. Alison Calhoun, ACLS Fellow in French & Italian

ALISON CALHOUN received her PhD degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2009 and is currently an American Council of Learned Scholars New Faculty Fellow in the Department of French and Italian at Indiana University. Before coming to IU, she was a postdoctoral lecturer at Université de Paris Diderot (Paris VII) and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pomona College.  She has published on the Tragédie en musique, and has been the Stage Director for three operas. Dr. Calhoun is a candidate for the position of Assistant Professor of French in the Department of French and Italian.

[1] Image from Deierkauf-Holsboer, S.W. L’histoire De La Mise En Scene Dans Le Theatre Francais a Paris De 1600 a 1673. – Paris: Nizet (1960). 165 S., Xx Taf. 4°: French & European Pubns, 1960.