Abstract

Although race rather than ethnicity has been the focus in American theatre of the second half of the 20th century, ethnicity continues to be an important element. It is, however, the ethnicity of characters rather than actors that has been significant. In this essay, I examine the ways in which dialect training manuals from the 1940s through the 1990s created integrated approaches to the construction of ethnicity and nationality through descriptions of national character, phonetic and grammar analyses, speech exercises and methods of classification. The socio-linguistic theories of Ferdinand de Saussure, V.N. Voloshinov and William Labov, along with Robert Hodge and Gunther Kress's work on social semiotics, are used to shed light on the ways in which speech pedagogy has both promoted the perpetuation of cultural types and stereotypes and encouraged more discerning representations of cultural difference.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3346
Print ISSN
1054-8378
Pages
pp. 353-372
Launched on MUSE
2004-03-19
Open Access
No
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