Kemal Sultanov, Churchill

Degree: PhD
Course: English
Supervisor: Dr Ross Wilson
Dissertation Title: Philosophy in Rehearsal, 1950-1980

Biographical Information

I am a doctoral candidate at the Faculty of English, Cambridge. My project, provisionally entitled 'Philosophy in Rehearsal, 1950s-1980s', examines the changing relations between philosophical and theatrical praxes in this thirty-year period to show how the theatrical rehearsal emerges as a mode of philosophical inquiry across a number of traditions of (loosely) ‘continental’ thought. Running counter to conceptions of this period as one which understands philosophical thought as a linguistic, semiological and/or poetic procedure bound to the text of philosophy, this project attempts to recover a parallel history of embodied, collective practices of philosophical thinking, as they emerge from rehearsal rooms in New York, London, Paris and Berlin. It considers a range of theatre-philosophical experiments that have remained absent from intellectual histories of this period and reconsiders some more well-known theatrical practitioners as part of this philosophical history; its central figures are Jean-Luc Nancy, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Jean Genet, Heiner Müller, Samuel Beckett and a number of their shared collaborators.

This project is supervised by Dr Ross Wilson (Faculty of English) and Professor Ian James (Department of French, Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics). It is co-funded by an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP Doctoral Award and a Møller Studentship from Churchill College, Cambridge. I am also a Cambridge Trust Scholar, having retained a Cambridge International Scholarship in an honorary capacity.

I came to Cambridge as a mature student to read for a BA in English and remained there to complete an MPhil in English Studies. Prior to this, I trained and worked extensively as a stage director in the UK, Russia and Central Asia. I am therefore actively interested in stimulating the exchange between performance practitioners and performance researchers, and in practice-led research more generally.

Research Interests

My wider research interests concentrate on the literature, culture, and intellectual history of the twentieth century, across Anglo-American, French, German and Russian contexts. Some very broad areas of focus include: ‘continental’ philosophy and the history of ideas; literary, aesthetic and cultural theory; the history and theory of theatre and performance; and theatre, performance and live art more generally. As a consequence of the methodological slant of my research, I also have a pronounced interest in textual and genetic scholarship, modern manuscripts, material texts and archival form.