Access your Project MUSE content using one of the login options below Close(X)
Browse Results For:
Oedipus, Othering, and Seventeenth-Century Drama
Canonical States, Canonical Stages was first published in 1994. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
In the crucible of seventeenth-century Europe, a new kind of subjectivity formed, private and interior. Perversely, the new private subject made its most spectacular appearance on the public stage-an appearance that, as Mitchell Greenberg amply demonstrates, also marked the emergence of absolutism in Europe. What these two phenomena had to do with one another, and how they were elaborated in the theater of the seventeenth century, is the subject of Greenberg's book, a masterful critical work that relates the dramatic construction of modern subjectivity and absolutist culture to the formation of the Western literary canon.In particular, Canonical States, Canonical Stages shows how the Oedipus myth, reinterpreted on various stages at the end of the Renaissance, served the purposes of the emerging culture by replaying the founding moment of absolute rule. Working with models of genealogical criticism, psychoanalysis, and a certain Continental feminism, Greenberg reads plays by Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Calderón, Corneille, and Racine to show how, as symptomatic texts staged within the confines of familial scenarios, they combine a dynamics of politics with a conflicting "private" desire shown to be inimical to the dominant ideology. This analysis reveals how scenarios of sacrifice and transcendence are brought into play to normalize and naturalize inchoate and threatening forces of social change by appealing to preexisting cultural models such as the myth of Oedipus. A fascinating integration of texts from political theory, psychoanalysis, history, and literature, Canonical States, Canonical Stages offers a powerful interpretation of the interrelated representation of subjectivity and absolutism on the seventeenth-century stage.
Winner of the 1995 MLA Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies
Mitchell Greenberg is chair of the Department of French and Italian at Miami University in Ohio. He is the author of, among other books, Subjectivity and Subjugation in Seventeenth-Century Drama and Prose: The Family Romance of French Classicism (1992).
Genre and Identity on the Eighteenth-Century English Stage
If the whole world acted the player, how did the player act the world? In Character's Theater, Lisa A. Freeman uses this question to test recent critical discussion of eighteenth-century literature and culture. Much current work, she observes, focuses on the concept of theatricality as both the governing metaphor of social life and a primary filter of psychic perception. Hume's "theater of the mind," Adam Smith's "impartial spectator," and Diderot's "tableaux" are all invoked by theorists to describe a process whereby the private individual comes to internalize theatrical logic and apprehend the self as other. To them theatricality is a critical mechanism of modern subjectivity but one that needs to be concealed if the subject's stability is to be maintained.
Finding that much of this discussion about the "Age of the Spectator" has been conducted without reference to the play texts or actual theatrical practice, Freeman turns to drama and discovers a dynamic model of identity based on eighteenth-century conceptualizations of character. In contrast to the novel, which cultivated psychological tensions between private interiority and public show, dramatic characters in the eighteenth century experienced no private thoughts. The theater of the eighteenth century was not a theater of absorption but rather a theater of interaction, where what was monitored was not the depth of character, as in the novel, but the arc of a genre over the course of a series of discontinuous acts.
In a genre-by-genre analysis of plays about plays, tragedy, comedies of manners, humours, and intrigue, and sentimental comedy, Freeman offers an interpretive account of eighteenth-century drama and its cultural work and demonstrates that by deploying an alternative model of identity, theater marked a site of resistance to the rise of the subject and to the ideological conformity enforced through that identity formation.
Presented in English for the first time in this book are two plays by Gao Xingjian originally written in Chinese: City of the Dead and Song of the Night. City of the Dead is the first of Gao Xingjian’s plays to focus fully on the male-female relationship. In this work, he transforms a wellknown ancient morality tale, “Zhuangzi Tests His Wife”, which had been used to caution women against being unfaithful to their husbands, into a modern play that is in keeping with his own sympathetic stance towards women in male-female relationships. In a certain sense, City of the Dead may be regarded as defining Gao’s fundamental view that men possess a flippant and cavalier attitude to their female sexual partner or partners, and that women who become involved in sexual relationships with men are therefore doomed to suffer. Among Gao Xingjian’s theatrical portrayals of the female psyche, Song of the Night is his most ambitious and most detailed one. Gao’s articulation of the female psyche is embedded in a solid substratumbedrock of his autobiographical impulses. It is through female actors, and his range of ingenious theatrical innovations that Gao succeeds in convincingly portraying his personal view of the power dynamics generated in male-female sexual relationships, and how these are played out. Together, these two plays advance Gao Xingjian’s innovative theatrical experiments in dramatic prose across linguistic and cultural boundaries. The English translations of City of the Dead and Song of the Night in the present volume will lead to significant English-language productions of these plays, and concomitantly a greater understanding of Gao’s plays.
New Views of an Old Subject
Many dogmas regarding Greek theatre were established by researchers who lacked experience in the mounting of theatrical productions. In his wide-ranging and provocative study, Clifford Ashby, a theatre historian trained in the practical processes of play production as well as the methods of historical research, takes advantage of his understanding of technical elements to approach his ancient subject from a new perspective. In doing so he challenges many long-held views.
Archaeological and written sources relating to Greek classical theatre are diverse, scattered, and disconnected. Ashby's own (and memorable) fieldwork led him to more than one hundred theatre sites in Greece, southern Italy, Sicily, and Albania and as far into modern Turkey as Hellenic civilization had penetrated. From this extensive research, he draws a number of novel revisionist conclusions on the nature of classical theatre architecture and production.
The original orchestra shape, for example, was a rectangle or trapezoid rather than a circle. The altar sat along the edge of the orchestra, not at its middle. The scene house was originally designed for a performance event that did not use an up center door. The crane and ekkyklema were simple devices, while the periaktoi probably did not exist before the Renaissance. Greek theatres were not built with attention to Vitruvius' injunction against a southern orientation and were probably sun-sited on the basis of seasonal touring. The Greeks arrived at the theatre around mid-morning, not in the cold light of dawn. Only the three-actor rule emerges from this eclectic examination somewhat intact, but with the division of roles reconsidered upon the basis of the actors' performance needs. Ashby also proposes methods that can be employed in future studies of Greek theatre. Final chapters examine the three-actor production of Ion, how one should not approach theatre history, and a shining example of how one should.
Ashby's lengthy hands-on training and his knowledge of theatre history provide a broad understanding of the ways that theatre has operated through the ages as well as an ability to extrapolate from production techniques of other times and places.
"This play tackles the theatrically attractive but ethically complex issue of Christian fundamentalism. Nyamnjoh, as a sociologist is well qualified to explore the social problems and psychological pressures which give rise to the born-again phenomenon, and the strong appeal of fundamentalist religion. The Convert, however is no schematic sociological tract. It deals with the conflicting imperatives in 21st century West Africa, which push ordinary people into extraordinary situations, and provides no easy solutions to the issues raised. Although the play revolves around the Ultimate Church of Christ and the four main characters affected by it, the audience is given a deftly sketched picture of a corrupt world beyond it, lacking in spiritual or community values. [..] The characterization. is remarkable for its avoidance of any obvious protagonist; the audience is allowed no clear character with whom to identify. The four main characters . have both virtues and flaws, each providing insights into ways the consumer-oriented materialism of modern life impacts upon African spirituality and community values. - David Kerr, Professor in Literature and Drama, University of Botswana ""At the core of the implicit philosophy in Nyamnjoh's The Convert . is the theatrical manifesto that contemporary society has not only to liberate itself, and its productive powers from 'Pentecostal', freak religions and distortion, it also has to liberate these same productive capacities from their present prostration. There is a deep, engaging humanism that pervades The Convert, but it is a humanism emblematic, to speak analogously, of the Aeschylean variety."" - Bate Besong, Africa Review of Books."
The seventeenth-century English collaborative authors Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher were not only the most popular playwrights of their day but also literary figures highly esteemed by the great critics of the age, Jonson and Dryden. Concentrating on the passions of the royalty and high nobility in a courtly atmosphere, their dramas are now usually seen as epitomizing a decadent turn in theater at the end of the Jacobean period. Philip Finkelpearl sets out to change this view by revealing the subtle political challenges contained in the plays and by showing that they criticize rather than exemplify false values. The result is a wholly new conception of this pair of dramatists and of the entire question of the relationship between the Crown and the theater in their time. Finkelpearl presents new biographical material revealing that Beaumont and Fletcher had good and sufficient reasons to be critical of the court and the king, and he shows that their most important works--especially The Knight of the Burning Pestle, Philaster, A King and No King, and The Maid's Tragedy have such criticism as a central concern. Court and Country Politics in the Plays of Beaumont and Fletcher offers much information on the nature of the "public" and "private" theaters at which these plays were presented and on Jacobean censorship. The book is an impressive explanation of why Beaumont and Fletcher were a central force in the Age of Shakespeare.
Originally published in 1990.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
This crowning collection brings together seven of Bole Butakeís finest plays since 1984, namely: Dance of the Vampires; Family Saga; Lake God; Betrothal Without Libation; And Palm Wine Will Flow; The Rape of Michelle; and Shoes. More than an academic, Butake has distinguished himself as a playwright, unearthing and foregrounding the ills, travails and predicaments of a land and people trapped by the blood-dripping impunities of vampires in power. In his rich repertoire of over ten plays, Butake takes sides with the downtrodden, the wretched of the earth, the deprived and the underdogs. His jabs and jibes, aimed at the rulers, are scathing, at times vitriolic. He has excelled at a stubborn determination to ignore the sinecures, lure and allure of power without responsibility.
Nine New Plays