Commedia dell' Arte and the Mediterranean: Charting Journeys and Mapping 'Others', 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Commedia dell' Arte and the Mediterranean

Charting Journeys and Mapping 'Others', 1st Edition

By Erith Jaffe-Berg


184 pages

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pub: 2016-03-18
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Drawing on published collections and also manuscripts from Mantuan archives, Commedia dell' arte and the Mediterranean locates commedia dell' arte as a performance form reflective of its cultural crucible in the Mediterranean. The study provides a broad perspective on commedia dell’ arte as an expression of the various cultural, gender and language communities in Italy during the early-modern period, and explores the ways in which the art form offers a platform for reflection on power and cultural exchange. While highlighting the prevalence of Mediterranean crossings in the scenarios of commedia dell' arte, this book examines the way in which actors embodied characters from across the wider Mediterranean region. The presence of Mediterranean minority groups such as Arabs, Armenians, Jews and Turks within commedia dell' arte is marked on stage and 'backstage' where they were collaborators in the creative process. In addition, gendered performances by the first female actors participated in 'staging' the Mediterranean by using the female body as a canvas for cartographical imaginings. By focusing attention on the various communities involved in the making of theatre, a central preoccupation of the book is to question the dynamics of 'exchange' as it materialized within a spectrum inclusive of both cultural collaboration but also of taxation and coercion.


"Much has been written about commedia dell’arte travel, but not nearly enough has been said about the transnational and multicultural work of this theater. Professor Jaffe-Berg’s important study reads the performance texts (most especially the scenarios) historically and culturally. To connect the many Greeks, Armenians and Jews mentioned in the commedia documents with the commercial and cultural mediatio ns performed by these groups in the Mediterranean is extremely exciting."

- Robert Henke, Washington University, St. Louis, USA

"Erith Jaffe-Berg expertly uses this rich and complex art form to engage with questions about the nature of the Mediterranean generally and the Italian peninsula specifically, and with certain thematic questions."

- Nicholas D. Brodie, Hobart, Tasmania in Parergon: Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, volume 33.1 (2016).

Table of Contents

Imagining the Mediterranean in early-modern performance. Tracing the Mediterranean journeys of the Innamorato in Commedia dell' Arte. Mediterranean cartographies of women in Commedia dell' Arte. After the laughter dies down middle eastern 'foreigners' in the Commedia dell' Arte. Jewish performances and the Commedia dell' Arte in early-modern Mantua.

About the Author

Erith Jaffe-Berg is Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of California-Riverside, USA.

About the Series

Transculturalisms, 1400-1700

This series presents studies of the early modern contacts and exchanges among the states, polities and entrepreneurial organizations of Europe; Asia, including the Levant and East India/Indies; Africa; and the Americas. Books investigate travellers, merchants and cultural inventors, including explorers, mapmakers, artists and writers, as they operated in political, mercantile, sexual and linguistic economies. We encourage authors to reflect on their own methodologies in relation to issues and theories relevant to the study of transculturism/translation and transnationalism. We are particularly interested in work on and from the perspective of the Asians, Africans, and Americans involved in these interactions, and on such topics as:

-Material exchanges, including textiles, paper and printing, and technologies of knowledge

-Movements of bodies: embassies, voyagers, piracy, enslavement

-Travel writing: its purposes, practices, forms and effects on writing in other genres

-Belief systems: religions, philosophies, sciences

-Translations: verbal, artistic, philosophical

-Forms of transnational violence and its representations.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / General