This is a network of academics from throughout the world whose work involves some or all aspects of the theatre, as a social activity, through translation, and through its existence in print and visual culture of all forms.
Its original basis was formed for a conference titled Shakespeare and the eastern Mediterranean, held at the IUC, Dubrovnik, in October 2006, and organised by Rocco Coronato (Siena), Patricia Parker (English department, Stanford University) and Stuart Sillars (DFL, Bergen). Since then, the same group has met in Venice (2007) and will re-convene in Malta, at the invitation of the University of Malta, in October 2008. A volume of essays is under preparation from the second of these events. The interests of this group extend from textual editing and scholarship through translation, performance and adaptation to the study of paintings and illustrated editions of plays as critical interpretations.
The original network is extended by the collaboration between Bergen and the Department of Literature, Makerere University, Uganda, which is a five-year NUFU-supported programme on African drama as a source of traditional wisdom. This introduces an element of performance, as well as quite a different series of social and political frames, to extend the network. The programme is coordinated by Lene Johannesen and Stuart Sillars in Bergen and Dominica Dipio in Makerere. Kavu Ngala, a stipendiat at Bergen working with the supervision of Stuart Sillars, is involved, since his work on African tragedic forms is closely related.
The result is an extended community of scholars working in a range of related disciplines, all centred in some way on the editing, performance, translation, publication or reception of drama, both Shakespearean and tradition. It exists to exchange information, produce scholarship, and further the work of individual scholars at doctoral level and at early stages in their careers.
It is envisaged that the network will be materially valuable in establishing Bergen as a centre for the study of renaissance and later theatre, and future doctoral students will automatically become part of the network and be invited to attend the summer meetings of the so-called ‘Dubrovnik Group’.
These links, and others with Universities including York, Cambridge, St. Andrews and Oxford, will also form the basis of overseas study periods for doctoral students, and faculty exchanges through the Erasmus programme.
The BSDN is now cooperating with the Early Modern research network EMRG, which is based at the University of Agder, Kristiansand. Among other projects, EMRG is responsible for publishing the Open Access on-line journal EMCO, whose first edition collected the conference proceedings of the 2009 BSDN symposium.