Lives in Play explores the centrality of life narratives to women’s drama and performance from the 1970s to the present moment. In the early days of second-wave feminism, the slogan was “The personal is the political.” These autobiographical and biographical “true stories” have the political impact of the real and have also helped a range of feminists tease out the more complicated aspects of gender, sex, and sexuality in a Western culture that now imagines itself as “postfeminist.”
The book’s scope is broad, from performance artists like Karen Finley, Holly Hughes, and Bobby Baker to playwrights like Suzan-Lori Parks, Maria Irene Fornes, and Sarah Kane. The book links the narrative tactics and theatrical approaches of biography
and autobiography and shows how theater artists use life writing strategies to advance women’s rights and remake women’s representations. Lives in Play will appeal to scholars in performance studies, women’s studies, and literature, including those in the growing field of auto/biography studies.
“ A fresh perspective and wide-ranging analysis of changes in feminist theater for the past thirty years . . . a most welcome addition to the literature on theater, in particular scholarship on feminist practices.”
“Helps sustain an important history by reviving works of feminist theater and performance and giving them a new and refreshing context and theorical underpinning . . . considering 1970s performance art alongside more conventional play production.”
In Writing a Usable Past, Brintlinger considers the interactions of post-Revolutionary Russian and emigre culture with the genre of biography in its various permutations, arguing that in the years after the Revolution, Russian writers looked to the great literary figures of the past to help them construct a post-Revolutionary present. In detailed looks at the biographical writing of Yuri Tynianov, Vladislav Khodasevich, and Mikhail Bulgakov, Brintlinger follows each author's successful biography/ies and their failed attempts at biographies of Alexander Pushkin on the centennial anniversary of his death. Brintlinger compares the Pushkin biographies to the other biographies examined, and in a concluding chapter she considers other, more successful commemorations of the great poet's death. She argues that popular commemorations--exhibits, concerts, special issues of journals--were a more fitting biography than the genre of the "usable past." For post-revolutionary cultural actors, including Tynianov, Khodasevich, and Bulgakov, Pushkin was a symbol rather than a model for constructing that usable past.
Writing Lives in the Eighteenth Century is a collection of essays on memoir, biography, and autobiography during a formative period for the genre. The essays revolve around recognized male and female figures—returning to the Boswell and Burney circle—but present arguments that dismantle traditional privileging of biographical modes. The contributors reconsider the processes of hero making in the beginning phases of a culture of celebrity. Employing the methodology William Godwin outlined for novelists of taking material “from all sources, experience, report, and the records of human affairs,” each contributor examines within the contexts of their time and historical traditions the anxieties and imperatives of the auto/biographer as she or he shapes material into a legacy. New work on Frances Burney D’Arblay’s son, Alexander, as revealed through letters; on Isabelle de Charriere; on Hester Thrale Piozzi; and on Alicia LeFanu and Frances Burney’s realignment of family biography extend current conversations about eighteenth century biography and autobiography.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.