We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Performance of Power

Theatrical Discourse and Politics

Sue-Ellen Case

Publication Year: 1991

Recently in the field of theatre studies there has been an increasing amount of debate and dissonance regarding the borders of its territory, its methodologies, subject matter, and scholarly perspectives. The nature of this debate could be termed "political" and, in fact, concerns "the performance of power"—the struggle over power relations embedded in texts, methodologies, and the academy itself.

This striking new collection of nineteen divergent essays represents this performance of power and the way in which the recent convergence of new critical theories with historical studies has politicized the study of the theatre. Neither play text, performance, nor scholarship and teaching can safely reside any longer in the "free," politically neutral, self-signifying realm of the aesthetic. Politicizing theatrical discourse means that both the hermeneutics and the histories of theatre reveal the role of ideology and power dynamics.

New strategies and concepts—and a vital new phase of awareness—appear in these illuminating essays. A variety of historical periods, from the Renaissance through the Victorian and up to the most contemporary work of the Wooster group, illustrate the ways in which contemporary strategies do not require contemporary texts and performances but can combine with historical methods and subjects to produce new theatrical discourse.

Published by: University of Iowa Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (103.1 KB)
pp. c-1

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (44.9 KB)
pp. i-iv


pdf iconDownload PDF (62.0 KB)
pp. v-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (729.3 KB)
pp. ix-xx

Over the past several years, the field of theater studies has displayed an increasing amount of debate and dissonance regarding the borders of its territory, its methodologies, its subject matter, and its scholars' perspectives. The nature of this debate, one...

Materialist Semiotics

read more

Sexual Politics and Cultural Identity in The Masque of Blackness

pdf iconDownload PDF (988.2 KB)
pp. 3-18

When she commissioned Ben Jonson to write her first court masque, Queen Anne specifically asked for a performance in which she and her ladies would appear disguised as "Blackamoors." The result, The Masque of Blackness (r605), inaugurated...

read more

The Good Soldier Schwejk as Dialectical Theater

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.0 MB)
pp. 19-40

These were the opening words of director Erwin Piscator's I929 book Das politische Theater.1 As the founders of epic theater, Piscator and Bertolt Brecht wanted to stage not only the "person," but that "something else": the political, social, economic, and...

read more

Revolution . . . History . . . Theater: The Politics of the Wooster Group's Second Trilogy

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.3 MB)
pp. 41-56

After generating a storm of protest over the use of blackface in Route I & 9 (The Last Act) (1981) and barely evading a lawsuit over borrowings from The Crucible for L.S.D. ( ... Just the High Points . .. ) (1985), the Wooster Group has recently completed the least...

read more

Bernard Shaw and the Drama of Imperialism

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 56-74

In recent years, analysts of British fiction and poetry have acknowledged Spivak's 1986 critique of literary scholarship and begun to incorporate her theoretical views into their work (along with those of Edward Said and others noted for their...


read more

Constructing Patroclus: The High and Low Discourses of Renaissance Sodomy

pdf iconDownload PDF (943.0 KB)
pp. 77-91

Sodomy during the Renaissance was both done and written; frequently it was written more interestingly than it was done. For while the act of sodomy is constrained by certain physical exigencies-one can only do so much with what...

read more

The Politics of Metamora

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 92-110

The American Indian is a myth. When the first European refugees arrived on North America's eastern shore, they were exiles from their own geography and history and so had to find a new identity. In spite of the diverse peculiarities of religion, nationality, or economic...

read more

The Eurocolonial Reception of Sanskrit Poetics

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.0 MB)
pp. 111-128

Research in contemporary feminist criticism has focused, in part, on what are termed "differences." A refinement of earlier identity politics, these differences operate to situate both the perspective of the criticlhistorian and the object...

Revealing Surveillance Strategies

read more

The Artificial Eye: Augustan Theater and the Empire of the Visible

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 131-145

In Robert Hooke's Micrographia of 1665, there is a fold-out plate nearly two feet long when it is fully extended. On this plate Hooke engraved the exhaustively detailed, superenlarged...

read more

The Playhouse and the Committee

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 146-162

On 21 July 1948, Howard F. Smith, "rancher and hotel operator," testified under oath before the Canwell Committee on Un-American Activities in Seattle, Washington, that the local Civic Theatre, the Repertory Playhouse, was a recruiting ground...

read more

Spectacle as Government: Dickens and the Working-Class Audience

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.5 MB)
pp. 163-180

One Saturday night early in r860, Charles Dickens attended a performance at the Britannia Theatre in a working-class East End neighborhood of London. Dickens was an observer particularly well suited to the task he set himself when he ventured...

Constructing Utopia

read more

Victorian Players and Sages

pdf iconDownload PDF (996.2 KB)
pp. 183-198

It seemed natural for Victorian men to worship themselves; Wordsworth's sonorous self-reverence had shown them the way. His Prelude is unabashed in its admiration for its subject, his own mind:...

read more

Charlie Chaplin, Soviet Icon

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.5 MB)
pp. 199-220

In 1917, Soviet power commandeered the mechanism of history, reprogramming it with ideological meaning and content, generated by and in the revolutionary moment. The...

read more

Theorizing Utopia: Edward Bond's War Plays

pdf iconDownload PDF (884.4 KB)
pp. 221-232

Socialism and feminism both entail a notion of utopia as the horizon of possibility which critiques the present and suggests a future. Paul Ricoeur's Lectures on Ideology and Utopia describes the function of utopia as that which shatters...

The Academic Institution and the Production of Knowledge

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (182.6 KB)
pp. 235-237

In his satiric "romance," Small World, David Lodge tells the picaresque story of academics in search of the perfect conference, a quest for the grail of knowledge, prestige, and power. The novel gives the impression (surely false, of course) that...

read more

Demographics and the Academy

pdf iconDownload PDF (220.1 KB)
pp. 238-241

There are three discoveries external to the field of theater history research that are symbolic of certain factors which will affect what we think about, what we teach, and what we do in the next several decades....

read more

The Challenge to Professional Training and Development

pdf iconDownload PDF (462.2 KB)
pp. 242-248

The Williamsburg meeting of the American Society for Theatre Research seems to have been regarded by members who participated in it as representing, for good or ill, a watershed...

read more

Integrating Instruction, Production, and Research

pdf iconDownload PDF (359.6 KB)
pp. 249-255

On 23-25 September 1988, a task force, charged by the Association for Theatre in Higher Education Board and appointed by the Council of Theatre Chairs and Deans, met in Las Vegas, Nevada, to develop a position paper or set of guidelines on ~ork assignments and workload distribution for theater...

read more

Conferring Power in the Theater

pdf iconDownload PDF (561.5 KB)
pp. 256-264

At a time when new ideas materialize more quickly than we can disseminate them in books or even journals, conferences are emerging as an ever more crucial means for us to communicate with our colleagues. Books and journal articles...

read more

New Historicism and American Theater History: Toward an Interdisciplinary Paradigm for Scholarship

pdf iconDownload PDF (412.9 KB)
pp. 265-271

In the March 1989 issue of the American Quarterly, four scholars discuss academia's "malign neglect" of the field of American theater and drama. Despite finding that critics outside the United States continue to view American plays of the last forty...

read more

The Theory of History

pdf iconDownload PDF (476.1 KB)
pp. 272-280

During the past decade or so, a considerable intellectual upheaval has taken place in the study of the humanities and social sciences in Europe and America, and in those areas of the arts such as art history, musicology, and theater history...

Notes on Contributors

pdf iconDownload PDF (194.6 KB)
pp. 281-284

Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (143.2 KB)
pp. b-1

E-ISBN-13: 9781587290343
Print-ISBN-13: 9780877453185

Publication Year: 1991