Julia Prest

Julia Prest’s research interests focus on early-modern French theatre, including ballet and opera. She is working on a book project provisionally entitled Master, Slave and Free: Politics and Practices in the Theatres of Saint-Domingue (the French Caribbean colony that became Haiti in 1804). She examines performance practices in the context of local conditions, both social and practical, and is particularly interested in the question of exclusion and integration with regard to race (and, to a lesser extent, gender), as well as the “translation” of French drama and opera to the colonial context. Julia is also working on a database of performances in Saint-Domingue: www.theatreinthefrenchcolonies.org A graduate in Music and French, Julia Prest wrote her PhD on Molière's comedy-ballets, comparing early performances at the French court (at which Louis XIV was always present and sometimes danced) with subsequent performances in the public theatre in Paris (from which the king was conspicuously absent). Julia's second major project culminated in her monograph, Theatre under Louis XIV: Cross-casting and the Performance of Gender in Drama, Ballet and Opera, first published by Palgrave in 2006 and reissued in paperback in 2013. In her most recent monograph, Controversy in French Drama: Molière's Tartuffe and the Struggle for Influence (New York: Palgrave, 2014) she provides a detailed, in-depth account of Molière’s five-year struggle to have a ban on public performances of Tartuffe lifted (1664-69). Drawing on a wide range of theatrical and non-theatrical sources, Julia changes the terms of the debate by challenging received notions regarding the opposition between the sincere believer (vrai dévot) and the hypocrite (faux dévot); she also demonstrates that Tartuffe was itself a key locus for the struggle for influence among competing political and religious factions during the early reign of Louis XIV. Julia has published on a variety of other, related subjects including witchcraft and the Affair of the Poisons, medical satire in the work of Molière, the castrato singer, and court ballet as a means of religious reconciliation during the Wars of Religion. She has also published critical editions of Le Mariage forcé (1999) and La Devineresse (2007). She is Reader in early-modern French at the University of St Andrews, having previously held academic positions at Yale University (2002-09) and the University of Oxford (1999-2002).

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