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Film, Theater, and Performing Arts > Theater and Performance Studies

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Euripides and the Tragic Tradition Cover

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Euripides and the Tragic Tradition

Ann Norris Michelini

“The most extensive scholarship to appear on this Greek dramatist in many years, Michelini’s work will be important to specialists and students of classical literature, literary theory, and both English and comparative literature.”—Modern Greek Studies

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Fangs Of Malice

Hypocrisy, Sincerity, and Acting

Matthew H. Wikander

The idea that actors are hypocrites and fakes and therefore dangerous to society was widespread in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Fangs of Malice examines the equation between the vice of hypocrisy and the craft of acting as it appears in antitheatrical tracts, in popular and high culture, and especially in plays of the period. Rousseau and others argue that actors, expert at seeming other than they are, pose a threat to society; yet dissembling seems also to be an inevitable consequence of human social intercourse. The “antitheatrical prejudice” offers a unique perspective on the high value that modern western culture places on sincerity, on being true to one's own self.

Taking a cue from the antitheatrical critics themselves, Matthew Wikander structures his book in acts and scenes, each based on a particular slander against actors. A prologue introduces his main issues. Act One deals with the proposition “They Dress Up”: foppish slavery to fashion, cross-dressing, and dressing as clergy. Act Two treats the proposition “They Lie” by focusing on social dissembling and the phenomenon of the self-deceiving hypocrite and the public, princely hypocrite. Act Three, “They Drink,” examines a wide range of antisocial behavior ascribed to actors, such as drinking, gambling, and whoring. An epilogue ties the ancient ideas of possession and the panic that actors inspire to contemporary anxieties about representation not only in theatre but also in the visual and literary arts.

Fangs of Malice will be of great interest to scholars and students of drama as well as to theatre professionals and buffs.

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Fantasies of Empire

The Empire Theatre of Varieties and the Licensing Controversy of 1894

In the London summer of 1894, members of the National Vigilance Society, led by the well-known social reformer Laura Ormiston Chant, confronted the Empire Theatre of Varieties, Leicester Square, and its brilliant manager George Edwardes as he applied for a routine license renewal. On grounds that the Empire's promenade was the nightly resort of prostitutes, that the costumes in the theatre's ballets were grossly indecent, and that the moral health of the nation was imperiled, Chant demanded that the London County Council either deny the theatre its license or require radical changes in the Empire's entertainment and clientele before granting renewal. The resulting license restriction and the tremendous public controversy that ensued raised important issues--social, cultural, intellectual, and moral--still pertinent today.Fantasies of Empire is the first book to recount in full the story of the Empire licensing controversy in all its captivating detail. Contemporaneous accounts are interwoven with Donohue's identification and analysis of the larger issues raised: What the controversy reveals about contemporary sexual and social relations, what light it sheds on opposing views regarding the place of art and entertainment in modern society, and what it says about the pervasive effect of British imperialism on society's behavior in the later years of Queen Victoria's reign. Donohue connects the controversy to one of the most interesting developments in the history of modern theatre, the simultaneous emergence of a more sophisticated, varied, and moneyed audience and a municipal government insistent on its right to control and regulate that audience's social and cultural character and even its moral behavior.Rich in illustrations and entertainingly written, Fantasies of Empire will appeal to theatre, dance, and social historians and to students of popular entertainment, the Victorian period, urban studies, gender studies, leisure studies, and the social history of architecture.

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Fashioning Celebrity

Eighteenth-Century British Actresses and Strategies for Image Making

This volume takes a new approach to the study of late eighteenth-century British actresses by examining the significance of leading actresses’ autobiographical memoirs, portraits, and theatrical roles together as significant strategies for shaping their careers. In an era when acting was considered a suspicious profession for women, eighteenth-century actresses were “celebrities” in a society obsessed with fashion, gossip, and intrigue. Fashioning Celebrity: Eighteenth-Century British Actresses and Strategies for Image Making, by Laura Engel, considers the lives and careers of four actresses: Sarah Siddons, Mary Robinson, Mary Wells, and Fanny Kemble. Using conventions of the era’s portraiture, fashion, literature, and the theater in order to create their personas on and off stage, these actresses provided a series of techniques for fashioning celebrity that still survive today. By emphasizing the importance of reading narratives through visual and theatrical frameworks and visual and theatrical representations through narrative models, Engel demonstrates the ways in which actresses’ identities were imagined through a variety of discourses that worked dialectically to construct their complex self-representations.

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The Feminist Spectator as Critic

The Feminist Spectator as Critic broke new ground as one of the pioneering books on feminist spectatorship, encouraging resistant readings to generate feminist meanings in performance. Approaching live spectatorship through a range of interdisciplinary methods, the book has been foundational in theater studies, performance studies, and gender/sexuality/women's studies. This updated and enlarged second edition celebrates the book's twenty-fifth anniversary with a substantial new introduction and up-to-the-moment bibliography, detailing the progress to date in gender equity in theater and the arts, and suggesting how far we have yet to go.

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Fictions of the Bad Life

The Naturalist Prostitute and Her Avatars in Latin American Literature, 1880–2010

The first comprehensive and interdisciplinary study of the prostitute in Latin American literature, Claire Thora Solomon’s book The Naturalist Prostitute and Her Avatars in Latin American Literature, 1880–2010 shows the gender, ethnic, and racial identities that emerge in the literary figure of the prostitute during the consolidation of modern Latin American states in the late nineteenth century in the literary genre of Naturalism. Solomon first examines how legal, medical, and philosophical thought converged in Naturalist literature of prostitution. She then traces the persistence of these styles, themes, and stereotypes about women, sex, ethnicity, and race in the twentieth and twenty-first century literature with a particular emphasis on the historical fiction of prostitution and its selective reconstruction of the past. Fictions of the Bad Life illustrates how at very different moments—the turn of the twentieth century, the 1920s–30s, and finally the turn of the twenty-first century—the past is rewritten to accommodate contemporary desires for historical belonging and national identity, even as these efforts inevitably re-inscribe the repressed colonial history they wish to change.

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Film Adaptation and Its Discontents

From Gone with the Wind to The Passion of the Christ

Thomas Leitch

Most books on film adaptation—the relation between films and their literary sources—focus on a series of close one-to-one comparisons between specific films and canonical novels. This volume identifies and investigates a far wider array of problems posed by the process of adaptation. Beginning with an examination of why adaptation study has so often supported the institution of literature rather than fostering the practice of literacy, Thomas Leitch considers how the creators of short silent films attempted to give them the weight of literature, what sorts of fidelity are possible in an adaptation of sacred scripture, what it means for an adaptation to pose as an introduction to, rather than a transcription of, a literary classic, and why and how some films have sought impossibly close fidelity to their sources. After examining the surprisingly divergent fidelity claims made by three different kinds of canonical adaptations, Leitch's analysis moves beyond literary sources to consider why a small number of adapters have risen to the status of auteurs and how illustrated books, comic strips, video games, and true stories have been adapted to the screen. The range of films studied, from silent Shakespeare to Sherlock Holmes to The Lord of the Rings, is as broad as the problems that come under review.

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Forum Modernes Theater

Vol. 25 (2010) through current issue

Forum Modernes Theater (Forum for Modern Theatre) is the only peer-reviewed journal for theatre studies in the German-speaking countries. It is published twice a year.

The journal examines cultural, aesthetic and historical manifestations of theatre and embraces all aspects of academic discussion – both subject-specific and interdisciplinary – including approaches taken from cultural and media studies. Dance theatre and musical theatre are considered just as readily as performance and theatre history. The journal’s declared objective is to cross the boundaries into neighbouring disciplines such as literature, art and music studies.

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Framing Attention

Windows on Modern German Culture

Lutz Koepnick

In Framing Attention, Lutz Koepnick explores different concepts of the window—in both a literal and a figurative sense—as manifested in various visual forms in German culture from the nineteenth century to the present. He offers a new interpretation of how evolving ways of seeing have characterized and defined modernity. Koepnick examines the role and representation of window frames in modern German culture—in painting, photography, architecture, and literature, on the stage and in public transportation systems, on the film screen and on television. He presents such frames as interfaces that negotiate competing visions of past and present, body and community, attentiveness and distraction. From Adolph Menzel's window paintings of the 1840s to Nam June Paik's experiments with television screens, from Richard Wagner's retooling of the proscenium stage to Adolf Hitler's use of a window as a means of political self-promotion, Framing Attention offers a theoretically incisive understanding of how windows shape and reframe the way we see the world around us and our place within it.

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French Theatre Today

The View from New York, Paris, and Avignon

Turk, Edward B.

 In 2005 literary and film critic Edward Turk immersed himself in New York City’s ACT FRENCH festival, a bold effort to enhance American contact with the contemporary French stage. This dizzying crash course on numerous aspects of current French theatre paved the way for six months of theatregoing in Paris and a month’s sojourn at the 2006 Avignon Festival. In French Theatre Today he turns his yearlong involvement with this rich topic into an accessible, intelligent, and comprehensive overview of contemporary French theatre. Situating many of the nearly 150 stage pieces he attended within contexts and timeframes that stretch backward and forward over a number of years, he reveals French theatre during the first decade of the twenty-first century to be remarkably vital, inclined toward both innovation and concern for its audience, and as open to international influence as it is respectful of national tradition.
 
French Theatre Today provides a seamless mix of critical analysis with lively description, theoretical considerations with reflexive remarks by the theatremakers themselves, and matters of current French and American cultural politics. In the first part, “New York,” Turk offers close-ups of French theatre works singled out during the ACT FRENCH festival for their presumed attractiveness to American audiences and critics. The second part, “Paris,” depicts a more expansive range of French theatre pieces as they play out on their own soil. In the third part, “Avignon,” Turk captures the subject within a more fluid context that is, most interestingly, both eminently French and resolutely international. The Paris and Avignon chapters contain valuable and well-informed contextual and background information as well as descriptions of the milieus of the Avignon Festival and the various neighborhoods in Paris where he attended performances, information that readers cannot find easily elsewhere. Finally, in the spirit of inclusiveness that characterizes so much new French theatre and to give a representative account of his own experiences as a spectator, Turk rounds out his survey with observations on Paris’s lively opera scene and France’s wealth of circus entertainments, both traditional and newly envisioned.
 
With  his shrewd assessments of contemporary French theatre, Turk conveys an excitement and an affection for his topic destined to arouse similar responses in his readers. His book’s freshness and openness will reward theatre enthusiasts who are curious about an aspect of French culture that is inadequately known in this country, veteran scholars and students of contemporary world theatre, and those American theatre professionals who have the ultimate authority and good fortune to determine which new French works will reach audiences on these shores.

 

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