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204Comparative Drama endeavor than the canon. Likewise, her witty configuration of Shepard and Shepard, the function of the playwright in the popular lore—in contrast to the postmodern sense that the author is dead—is a fertile ground for theorizing authorizing strategies. Along with Hart, Rosemarie Bank re-reads Shepard through postmodern notions of heterotopia, a solid sense of the terrain of the politics of representation, and the figurations of gender at such sites. Bank's and Hart's articles stand out as characteristic examples of the kind of work being done in the field at this time. Yet there is also in the volume an article by a graduate student, whose work represents the kind of careful training now being produced in the field I have mentioned above. I am referring to the article "A Monster of Perfection" on O'Neill's Stella, written by Anne Flèche, a student at Rutgers. Flèche uses feminist psycho-semiotic concepts from Lacan, Kristeva, and de Lauretis to figure the instability in character construction —the role of jouissance and excess in the politics of the visible. Existing within the monstrous spectacle produced by castration anxiety, Mary Tyrone, in Long Day's Journey provides a self-engendering "passage toward the indefinite, into night, and away from the specificity implied by 'Men . . . and whiskey'" (p. 27). Flèche continues: "she is the condition of narrativity. ... As the space of lack, wound, and pathos, she cannot well be defined by the language of inclusion" (p. 28). Flèche figures the female "outside" of mimetic structures from within the male canonical "inside" of them, perforating its closed system with concepts of the excessive and inaccessible and thereby establishing the boundary of narrativizing from within the narrative. The theorizing is first-rate, and the writing is up to the task. Yet, in spite of these examples, I am not certain, at this point in feminist criticism, what reader this anthology best serves. It seems to be marginal to feminist studies. Perhaps it is most useful as an amplification of the study of canonized male playwrights to mark the parameters of their dramatic effectiveness vis à vis gender, or to identify the point of departure for the writing of feminist theory and criticism. SUE-ELLEN CASE University of California, Riverside Thomas Postlewait and Bruce A. McConachie, eds. Interpreting the Theatrical Past: Essays in the Historiography of Performance. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1989. Pp. 325. $35.00 (cloth); $15.00 (paper). Thomas Postlewait and Bruce McConachie introduce their collection with a call to examine "the research procedures, practices, problems, and opportunities in the wide field of theatre history." To do so, they gather together thirteen polemical essays by prominent theater historians who differ in their understandings of and approaches to the "problems and opportunities" in the field. The result is a collection of essays which consistently frame their methodological recommendations in the presentation and analysis of specific historical artifacts, dramatic institutions, and Reviews205 performance practices. The range is wide and intriguing, from superb analyses of the actor by Erika Fischer-Lichte and Joseph R. Roach, to astute ideological discussions of marginalized theater cultures by Bruce A. McConachie, Tracy C. Davis, and James V. Hatch. These helpful discussions of the traditions of labor, feminist, and black performance stand in vivid contrast to the relatively apolitical tone of the majority of the essays, such as the discussions of reception analysis, computer databases, and performance reconstruction by Marvin Carlson, Joseph Donohue, and Robert K. Sarlós. Although the contributions to the volume appear to be somewhat uniform in their strategies of documenting and presenting materials, the above contrast only begins to suggest the extent of the volume's contradictory accounts of identity and discipline in the study of the theatrical past. While most of the contributors agree that the definition of identity is key to an understanding of the field, only a few of the essays dwell productively on the manner in which a hegemonic "discipline" has structured the identity of "theater history." This is certainly not the position of R. W. Vince whose weak and ambiguous soul-searching essay opens the collection. Vince begins with a half-hearted call...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 204-208
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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