Welcome to our website

This research program is supported by Sørlandets kompetansefond, Stiftelsen Thomas Fearnley, Heddy og Nils Astrup. The Research Council of Norway, and the University of Agder

About the programme

Tolerance and the City; Human Interaction in Social and Urban Space
is a research initiative in interdisciplinary studies focused on the humanities and the role of the arts in the establishment of a public sphere that fosters tolerance, democracy, and freedom of expression. In societies and urban contexts of increasing cultural and religious variety, and therefore subject to conflicts and social disruption based on attitudes to gender, race, religion, and culture, the development and enhancement of toleration by the contribution of the arts can hardly be exaggerated, although not sufficiently studied, understood and communicated.

The project’s activities and fields of interest are organized as twin projects, one mainly focused on the early modern period, Early Modern Urban Culture, and one focused mainly on the modern period: The Public Sphere of the City. Information about activities past and present is published in the RR Bulletin, The twin perspectives of The Tolerance and City–projects find expression in its members research on historical cityscapes and urban contexts and participation in new urbanism projects and debates.


Early Modern Urban Culture involves the study of the processes of one that emphasizes the place of theatre in early modern urban society. The gradual establishment of a public sphere and arenas for innovation and change is in decisive ways conditioned by the negotiations performed on and by the early modern stage. The role of the theatre as a mental and material space and a site for performance, representation and communication is among our main objects of study, drama being the most social of all arts. This process of emplacement, or Verortung, is deeply and intrinsically related to the novel role of Renaissance schools and universities and their importance in facilitating the creation of a public sphere in Renaissance cities – not least due to the work of  “university wits”.  Drama was an important didactic tool both in schools and colleges, as well as on the public stage.

Since EMRG arranges an annual Tolerance and the City–workshop, and since 2008 a series of intensive-seminars with 3-5 speakers, the next is due in August 2010 (see the EMRG site for more info.). From EMRG, the project currently has one postdoctoral fellow, Clare Lapraik Guest (since November 2007) and one doctoral fellow, Mr. John-Wilhelm Vinje, (since December 2009), both at the University of Agder.