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Birgitta Lindh Estelle

Senior Lecturer

Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and
Religion
Telephone
Visiting address
Renströmsgatan 6
41255 Göteborg
Room number
C651
Postal address
Box 200
40530 Göteborg

About Birgitta Lindh Estelle

Presentation

Birgitta Lindh Estelle, Associate Professor in Comparative Literature with a specialization in theatre, is a scholar and a teacher at LIR. Her thesis Befrielsen är nära. Feminism och teaterpraktik i Margareta Garpes och Suzan Ostens 1970-talsteater (2006) dealt with Swedish feminist theatre in the 1970’s, by two successful theatre practioners and women activists. In the more recent research project ‘Emotion and Liberation– sentimental and melodramatic elements in women’s socio-realistic plays of the modern breakthrough’ Lindh Estelle has continued researching feminist stories for the theatre, this time in the late nineteenth century. The result has been published in the monograph Som en vildfågel i en bur. Identitet, kärlek, frihet och melodramatiska inslag i Alfhild Agrells, Victoria Benedictssons och Anne Charlotte Lefflers 1880-talsdramatik (Like a wild bird in a cage: Identity, love, freedom and melodramatic elements in Alfhild Agrell’s Victoria Benedictsson’s and Anne Charlotte Leffler’s plays of the 1880s, 2019). She has also contributed to two collaborative research projects financed by the Swedish Research Council. In both projects Johansson Lindh studied the reception of women’s playwriting. The results are published in Swedish Women’s Writing on Export: Tracing the Transnational Reception in the Nineteenth Century (2019), in Nordic Theatre Studies and in the anthology I avantgardets skugga. Brytpunkter och kontinuitet i svensk teater kring 1900 (In the shadow of the avant-garde: Turning points and continuity in Swedish theatre around 1900).

Research Interests

  • Theatre historiography and Swedish theatre history (19th and 20th century)
  • Aesthetics and ideology
  • Theatre and gender
  • Analysis of plays and performances
  • Reception and theatrical criticism

Current Research

I have continued working with a theatre historical project in which I trace Anne Charlotte Leffler's play Sanna Kvinnor (True Women) (1883) across the European theatrical landscape 1883-1925. Performances at very different venues are included, such as the staging of the play in a gym in a small Swedish town, amateur-performances by a worker’s club in Copenhagen and rehearsals at an avant-garde theater in London: How was the play perceived of in different contexts and what changes were made? How did a play by a female playwright from a minor language area travel? The project aims at writing theatre history from a European and gender fringe perspective. By so doing the picture of European theatre activities and their conditions during the decades around the turn of the 1900s will be broadened.

Furthermore, I am involved in a research collaboration linked to the EU- network “Women Writers in History”. It focuses women writers’ roles as European cultural intermediaries and their contributions to the development of modernity through their works on, in particular, matters of intimacy, such as love, sex, friendship and mother-child-relationships. The European dissemination and reception of their works are also included in our research.

Earlier Research

1. Emotion and liberation – sentimental and melodramatic elements in women’s socio-realistic plays of the modern breakthrough

The aim of the project was to reintroduce Swedish drama of the modern breakthrough, by illuminating how elements of a sentimental and melodramatic theatrical tradition are constructed and evaluated in naturalistic plays on marriage by women playwrights in the 1880’s. How does the emphasis on emotion contribute to ideas of liberation? What discourses on gender and modernity do the sentimental and melodramatic features help generate?

The gender critical dramatic works by Alfhild Agrell, Victoria Benedictsson and Anne Charlotte Leffler were popular at Scandinavian Theatres in the 1880's and generated interest in other parts Europe mainly during the 1880’s and 1890’s. Nevertheless,they have been depreciated because of the sentimental and melodramatic features in their plays and despite the paucity of academic structural analyzes .

A sentimental and melodramatic tradition influenced European theatre throughout the 19th century. Hence, a mode of interpretation that focuses on the function of the sentimental and melodramatic features is important in order to show the distinctive dramaturgical and thematic character of these plays, and to illuminate the role of their authors as cultural intermediaries of ideas abour gender and marriage.

The results have been published in the monograph Som en vildfågel i en bur. Identitet, kärlek, frihet och melodramatiska inslag i Alfhild Agrells, Victoria Benedictssons och Anne Charlotte Lefflers 1880-talsdramatik (Like a wild bird in a cage: Identity, love, freedom and melodramatic elements in Alfhild Agrell’s Victoria Benedictsson’s and Anne Charlotte Leffler’s plays of the 1880s, 2019) The research was financed by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ)

2. Swedish Women's writing on Export in the 19th century

The research was performed in cooperation with a group of researchers at LIR ( Prof. Åsa Arping, Prof. Jenny Bergenmar, Prof. Gunilla Hermansson and Prof. Yvonne Leffler). It concerns the reception of Swedish women authors in the 19th century. The aim of our common project was to map and analyze Swedish Women authors’ transnational networks and international breakthroughs, and to develop theory and methods for the purpose. The research results have been published in Swedish Women’s Writing on Export. Tracing the Transnational Reception in the Nineteenth Century (2019) My contribution mapped the European reception of Anne Charlotte Leffler’s plays in translations and theatre productions. The research project received funding from the Swedish Research Councils (VR).

3. Turning Points and Continuity: The Changing Roles of Performance in Society 1880-1925

Within the frames of the research project ”Turning Points and Continuity” I investigated how the play Sanna kvinnor (True Women) by Anne Charlotte Leffler was recieved at Scandinavian Theatres and in news paper-reviews in the two laste decades of the 19th century. Methods of dealing with reviews as source material are developed. An analysis of how the affective reactions of the reviewers structure the evalutiaons of the opening night at the Royal Dramatic Theatre is conducted. Another analysis highlights what happened to the feminism of the play when the popular male actor Emil Hillberg made the antagonistic role his bravura performance.

Seven scholars from different disciplines has taken part in the research project ”Turning Points and Continuity”, which was led by Prof. Lena Hammergren at The University of Stockholm. The over all aim was to revisit and re-interpret a period celebrated as the breakthrough of modern theatre by approaching archival material from an appreciative look at the many aesthetic layers that worked in tandem with the emergence of the early avant garde. The research project received funding from The Swedish Research Councils (VR).

4. The thesis Befrielsen är nära. Feminism och teaterpraktik i Margareta Garpes och Suzanne Ostens 1970-talsteater (Liberation is at Hand. Feminism and Theatre Practice in Margareta Garpe’s and Suzanne Osten’s Theatre of the 1970’s)

The thesis appeared in 2006 and deals with three of Garpe’s and Osten’s productions, of which Jösses flickor! Befrielsen är nära (Gosh Girls! Liberation is At Hand 1974) is the most well- known. The thesis illuminates the linkage in these productions between avant-garde theatre and the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970’s. It highlights the manner in which Garpe and Osten used the medium of the theatre to raise consciousness in audiences, creating new patterns of identification for women. It also explores the ways in which the identity politics of the Women’s Liberation Movement influenced and developed the use of theatrical strategies. Structures of communication in the production, the performances and the reviews in daily newspapers are explored. The thesis was part of the research project “The Power of Art: the Texts of the Swedish Women’s Liberation Movement 1970 – 2000”, which was funded by the Swedish Research Council and concluded in 2005.

Networks and cooperation

I participate in the European project Women Writers in History. The primary aim of the network has been to develop a database concerning the reception of women’s literature before the 20th century. Within the network European scholars cooperate in projects on women’s literature, the transnational dissemination and reception of it and on women’s roles as intermediaries of ideas.

Teaching

Since autumn 2006, I have been involved in teaching elementary, advanced and teacher training courses in Theatre Studies and Comparative Literature. In 2011-2012, I was the Director of Studies in Literature and in 2013 I was the Director of Studies in Theatre Studies. During the period 2006–2009 I taught courses in Literature, Creative Writing and Dramaturgy at the University of Skövde in Sweden.

In 2006-2012 I wrote theatrical reviews in the Swedish daily paper Svenska Dagbladet.