Prof. Dr. Jeroen Coppens

Short biography

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© Waldemar Salesski (2021)

Jeroen Coppens (°1986) is currently a visiting professor at the Department of Art History, Musicology and Theatre Studies at Ghent University and teaches the master course Media-Archaeology and the introductory course Research Skills. Previously, he also taught the practice-oriented master course DramaturgyHe also teaches a master seminar on the Flemish Wave at the Institute for Theatre-, Film- and Media Studies at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main (Germany) and works as a project coordinator for the citizen science project "Das Dritte Reich und wir" at the University of Gießen (Germany).

Jeroen Coppens holds degrees in Philosophy (University of Antwerp, 2007) and Theatre- and Film Studies (University of Antwerp, 2008 & 2009). In 2009, he completed his studies at the Free University of Berlin. At that time, he also collaborated on the international performing arts festival IN TRANSIT09 at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. 

In 2016, he obtained his doctoral degree at Ghent University with a dissertation entitled Visually Speaking. A Research into Visual Strategies of Illusion in Postdramatic Theater. Bringing together theatre studies and visual studies, the research looks at illusionistic practices in contemporary theatre and uncovers how they critically engage with historical scopic regimes while simultaneously exploring new, contemporary ways of looking.

Jeroen Coppens publishes on the themes of visual dramaturgy, intermediality, postdramatic theatre and the performance of images. He is a co-editor of the books Dramaturgies in the New Millennium (Schriftenreihe Forum Modernes Theater, 2014) and Unfolding Spectatorship: Shifting Political, Ethical and Intermedial Positions (Academia Press, 2016). As a freelance dramaturge, Jeroen also collaborates with video artist Ariane Loze.

More information here.



Telephone: +32 (0)9 264 36 54 

Personal website: 


Address: Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 41, 9000 Ghent Belgium (Technicum Block 4)

Office hours: Thursdays 10h-12h (with appointment only)

Route description

Current Research

Images in Time & Space.
The Lives of Images in Contemporary Theatre.

Since the turn of the millennium, there has been an explicit interest to deal with theatre as a visual event. Bringing theatre studies in close connection with visual studies, it has been argued that theatre is an image-producing medium (Jackob & Röttger 2009) that is embedded in historical scopic regimes (Bleeker 2008). As such, it provides a stage for the image and critically engages with culturally specific practices of looking. 

This research project aims to carry this idea further by considering the theatre as a space in which images are brought to life within the time and space of the theatrical event. Drawing on W.J.T. Mitchell’s concept of the metapicture (1994), the project analyses how contemporary theater directors like Romeo Castellucci, Rabih Mroué and others create theatrical “thinking images” that carry in them a reflection on their underlying medial operations and visualise how representation works. Moreover, they experiment with an animistic attitude toward the image, staging and (re)animating the image as a “living organism” (Mitchell 2005). 

Combining a critical exploration of the processes of medialisation with the magical animism of watching living images, contemporary theatre practitioners pave the way for what Hans-Thies Lehmann has called a politics of perception (1999), in which the image is rediscovered as a heterogeneous entity that speaks to the spectator in a self-critical and magical way.

Finished research

Visually Speaking.
A Research into Visual Strategies of Illusion in Postdramatic Theater. (2016)

Visually Speaking. A Research into Visual Strategies of Illusion in Postdramatic TheatreRecent evolutions in the theater practice since the turn of the millennium show a clear renewed interest in the trope of visual illusion. This tendency is remarkable, because postdramatic theater is traditionally associated with an inclination away from coherent narrative and illusion. The present research explores this tension, endeavouring to understand the reappearance of visual illusion on the background of a theater tradition that is known for its anti-illusionistic stance. The research analyses how visual illusion is constructed on the theater stage in highly visual dramaturgies that stage complex interactions and transactions between different media. At the same time, the analysis focuses on how these dramaturgies influence contemporary accounts of spectatorship. This dual approach brings together theater studies and visual studies in order to understand theater as a visual event that unfolds between the spectator, the object of vision and culturally and historically specific ways of seeing that mediate the relationship between both. As a case in point, the analysis scrutinises the system of linear perspective and the practice of trompe l’oeil as two central visual strategies of illusion that appear on the postdramatic stage. Considering how new media are staged according to the conventions of these strategies, this study aims to uncover how visual illusion in postdramatic theater critically engages with historical scopic regimes while simultaneously exploring new, contemporary ways of looking.

Promotor: Prof. Dr. Katharina Pewny
Co-promotor: Prof. Dr. Christel Stalpaert

Keywords: visual dramaturgy, new media, intermediality, postdramatic theatre, visual studies, W.J.T. Mitchell, metapictures, trompe-l’œil, perspective



  • Since 2021: Media-Archaeology of Visual Strategies  (MA, Ghent University)
  • Since 2021: "The Flemish Wave"? Innovation, Mythologization and Canonization in the Flemish Theatre and Dance Scene of the 1980s. (MA, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main)

Guest Lectures and seminars on:

  • Aestheticisation of Violence in Visual Culture
  • Perspectivism in Contemporary Theatre
  • Neobaroque Tendencies in Contemporary Art 
  • Posttraumatic Theatre 
  • Body Politics: Pornography & Art 
  • Per/Forming History. Historiography in Theory and Practice
  • Seminar on Historiography as an Act of Imagination
  • Workshop "The Processes of Dramaturgy/The Dramaturgy of images"