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Palgrave Macmillan

The Theatre of Imagining

A Cultural History of Imagination in the Mind and on the Stage

  • Book
  • © 2018


  • Relevant for scholars with an interest in aesthetics and drama, theatre history and new analytical dramaturgic strategies
  • Offers a broad history of the concept of imagination as well as analytical dramaturgic strategies that allow for an understanding of the imagination of the spectator
  • Combines historical perspective with a focus on imagination in theatre

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About this book

This book is the first comprehensive analysis of the fascinating and strikingly diverse history of imagination in the context of theatre and drama. Key questions that the book explores are: How do spectators engage with the drama in performance, and how does the historical context influence the dramaturgy of imagination? In addition to offering a study of the cultural history and theory of imagination in a European context including its philosophical, physiological, cultural and political implications, the book examines the cultural enactment of imagination in the drama text and offers practical strategies for analyzing the aesthetic practice of imagination in drama texts. It covers the early modern to the late modernist period and includes three in-depth case studies: William Shakespeare’s Macbeth (c.1606); Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879); and Eugène Ionesco’s The Killer (1957).

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Table of contents (10 chapters)


“This is an extremely bold attempt to investigate the cultural history of imagination in a European context and to analyse the cultural enactment of imagination in dramatic texts as potential performance. As a concept imagination is more often assumed than actually investigated or historicised, both which  this study very definitely does.” (Christopher Balme, Leverhulme Visiting Professor in Theatre, Chair of Theatre Studies at LMU Munich, Germany)

Authors and Affiliations

  • University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

    Ulla Kallenbach

About the author

Ulla Kallenbach is Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department for the Study of Culture, University of Southern Denmark. Previous publications include the co-edited anthology stage/page/play: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Theatre and Theatricality (2016). She has served as co-editor of Nordic Theatre Studies and worked as a freelance dramaturge.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: The Theatre of Imagining

  • Book Subtitle: A Cultural History of Imagination in the Mind and on the Stage

  • Authors: Ulla Kallenbach

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Literature, Cultural and Media Studies, Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-319-76302-6Published: 28 July 2018

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-09458-4Published: 15 January 2019

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-319-76303-3Published: 13 July 2018

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XV, 324

  • Number of Illustrations: 25 b/w illustrations

  • Topics: Performing Arts, Theatre History, Philosophy of Mind, Cultural Theory

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