Acting Like Men
Gender, Drama, and Nostalgia in Ancient Greece
Publication Year: 1998
Published by: University of Michigan Press
Introduction: The Search for Origins
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Greek drama demands a story of orIgms. The most seductive of these, and the one that has persistently attracted scholarly adherents in the history of European drama, begins with an act of transcendence. In this anthropological narrative, dramatic mimesis has its primeval ancestor in early cult or ritual practices in Greece in which some form of mimetic enactment is preparatory to the taking on of a new identity. 1 Less seductive...
1. Nostalgia and Drama
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In the introduction, I discussed the critic's desire to inhabit the position of the masculine subject of antiquity and the persistence of that desire in the critical history of Greek and European drama. Here I want to elaborate on that claim by discussing this form of nostalgia in the context of four historically dominant-if very different-approaches to dramatic production: Plato's critique of dramatic mimesis in the Republic, Aristotle's formal analysis of tragedy in the Poetics, Freud's narrative of sexual object choice and identity formation in his reading of Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus, and the account of theatrical experience in contemporary drama criticism and performance studies. It is obvious that I will not be presenting a comprehensive...
2. Scripted Speech
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In the previous chapter, I argued that spectatorship and bodily impersonation are the principal features of drama as a practice and as a conceptual category. But with the obvious exception of mime, dramatic impersonation comprises both bodily acts and speech acts. Despite the fact that Aristotle can do away with opsis and can simultaneously reduce the verbal articulation of a play to the reading...
3. The Theatrical Body
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In chapter 1, I suggested that the concept of spectatorship is not born with the institution of the dramatic festivals in the sixth century but develops in the context of earlier Greek literary and visual traditions in which representations of the human body invite the attention of a spectator. In this chapter I want to consider the ways in which such representations invite the attention of an implied spectator, and to suggest how that invitation...
4. The Theater of Tyranny
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As a defining feature in the history of the developing Athenian polis, the Pisistratid narratives represent a transition from primarily mythological or legendary descriptions and explanations of past events to a more recognizably historical account of contemporary people and places. At the same time, the generic differences between myth (or poetry) and history that enable this notion of a transition ultimately fail to conceal the fact that historical...
5. The Theater of Dionysus
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The meaning of spectatorship as a theoretical and historical practice in fifth-century Athens cannot be detached from its meaning in Greek history and culture in general. At the same time, however, it is obvious that spectatorship has a special significance in the context of the Theater of Dionysus. In this context, the spectator becomes explicitly defined as a category of analysis and is particularized within Athenian civic ideology and the history...
Epilogue: The End of Nostalgia
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Focused on performance practices in London in the eighteenth century and New Orleans in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Roach's formulation is also useful for understanding the performance history of classical Athens. In this book, I have argued that the theater and its critical discourses in ancient Greece-and, by extension, in the European canon-are forms of a cultural nostalgia. This model of cultural production, born from...
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Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 1998