The Play about the Plot


Hayden White has pointed out that the narrativization of history adds a sense of causality and moral value topast events. Building upon these ideas I will analyze six differing ways to narrate the Danish take-over of Visby in 1361. My main focus is on public dramatizations, enacted during the Medieval Week on the Baltic island of Gotland. The story enacted in this commemorative festival has repeatedly been subjected to reconstructions concerning its story-line, perspective and role characterization.Some changes are initiated by the festival organizers whereas others result from playful and provocative moves that challenge their intention. The different versions evoked by these reconstructions re-evaluate and decenter the focus of preceding representations. Doing so they also turn the public performances of a historical narrative and the play about its plot into a medium in which constructions of contemporary community and identity may be claimed, contested

and negotiated.

How to Cite

Gustafsson, L., (1998) “The Play about the Plot”, Ethnologia Europaea 28(1), 17-26. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Lotten Gustafsson (Stockholm University)



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