In Abject Performances Leticia Alvarado draws out the irreverent, disruptive aesthetic strategies used by Latino artists and cultural producers who shun standards of respectability that are typically used to conjure concrete minority identities. In place of works imbued with pride, redemption, or celebration, artists such as Ana Mendieta, Nao Bustamante, and the Chicano art collective known as Asco employ negative affects—shame, disgust, and unbelonging—to capture experiences that lie at the edge of the mainstream, inspirational Latino-centered social justice struggles. Drawing from a diverse expressive archive that ranges from performance art to performative testimonies of personal faith-based subjection, Alvarado illuminates modes of community formation and social critique defined by a refusal of identitarian coherence that nonetheless coalesce into Latino affiliation and possibility.
Martin Patrick explores the ways in which contemporary artists across media continue to reinvent art that straddles both public and private spheres. Examining the impact of various art movements on notions of performance, authorship, and identity, Across the Art/Life Divide argues that the most defining feature of contemporary art is the ongoing interest of artists in the problematic relationship between art and life. Looking at underexamined forms, such as stand-up comedy and sketch shows, alongside more traditional artistic media, he situates the work of a wide range of contemporary artists to ask: To what extent are artists presenting themselves? And does the portrayal of the “self” in art necessarily constitute authenticity? By dissecting the meta-conditions and contexts surrounding the production of art, Across the Art/Life Divide examines how ordinary, everyday life is transformed into art.
Acting has traditionally been considered a form of pretending or falsehood, compared with the so-called reality or truth of everyday life. Yet in the postmodern era, a reversal has occurred—real life is revealed as something acted and acting is where people have begun to search for truth.
In Acting and its Refusal in Theatre and Film, Marian McCurdy considers the ethical desire of refusing to act—which results from blurred boundaries of acting and living—and examines how real life and performance are intertwined. Offering a number of in-depth case studies, the book contextualizes refusals of acting on stage and screen and engages in an analysis of fascist theatricality, sexual theatricality, and the refusal of theatricality altogether.
When theater and related forms of live performance explore the borderlands labeled animal and autism, they both reflect and affect their audiences’ understanding of what it means to be human. Affect, Animals, and Autists maps connections across performances that question the borders of the human whose neurodiverse experiences have been shaped by the diagnostic label of autism, and animal-human performance relationships that dispute and blur anthropocentric edges.
By analyzing specific structures of affect with the vocabulary of emotions, Marla Carlson builds upon the conception of affect articulated by psychologist Silvan Tomkins. The book treats a diverse selection of live performance and archival video and analyzes the ways in which they affect their audiences. The range of performances includes commercially successful productions such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse, and The Lion King as well as to the more avant-garde and experimental theater created by Robert Wilson and Christopher Knowles, Back to Back Theatre, Elevator Repair Service, Pig Iron Theatre, and performance artist Deke Weaver.
Tourists exult in Bahia, Brazil, as a tropical paradise infused with the black population's one-of-a-kind vitality. But the alluring images of smiling black faces and dancing black bodies masks an ugly reality of anti-black authoritarian violence.
Christen A. Smith argues that the dialectic of glorified representations of black bodies and subsequent state repression reinforces Brazil's racially hierarchal society. Interpreting the violence as both institutional and performative, Smith follows a grassroots movement and social protest theater troupe in their campaigns against racial violence. As Smith reveals, economies of black pain and suffering form the backdrop for the staged, scripted, and choreographed afro-paradise that dazzles visitors. The work of grassroots organizers exposes this relationship, exploding illusions and asking unwelcome questions about the impact of state violence performed against the still-marginalized mass of Afro-Brazilians.
Based on years of field work, Afro-Paradise is a passionate account of a long-overlooked struggle for life and dignity in contemporary Brazil.
In the dark of the blackout before the curtain rises, the theater holds its many worlds suspended on the verge of appearance. How can a performance sustain this sense of potentiality that grounds all live production? Or if a stage-world does begin, what kinds of future might appear within its frame? Conceiving of the theater as a cultural institution devoted to experimenting with the future, this book begins and ends on the dramatic stage; in between it traverses literature, dance, sculpture, and performance art to explore the various futures we make in a live event.
After Live conceives of traditional dramatic theater as a place for taming the future and then conceptualizes how performance beyond this paradigm might stage the unruly nature of futurity. Chapters offer insights into the plays of Beckett, Churchill, Eno, and Gombrowicz, devised theater practices, and include an extended exploration of the Italian director Romeo Castellucci. Through the lens of potentiality, other chapters present novel approaches to minimalist sculpture and dance, then reflect on how the beholder him or herself is called upon to perform when confronted by such work.
From the earliest Puritan displays of piety and rectitude to the present-day epidemic of staged school massacres, the history of America has been characterized by a dual impulse: to cast public event and character as high drama, and to dismiss theater and theatricalization as un-American, even evil. This book rethinks American history as theater, and theater as the ethos and substance of American life, ironically repudiated at every turn by the culture it produces.
Beginning with the writings of John Winthrop and others, through the Federalist and "romantic" stages of American cultural life, and into the modern and contemporary periods, Anthony Kubiak finds an America not usually discovered by traditional or materialist approaches to history. He deploys the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan, the cultural theory of SlavojZizek, and the performance theory of Herbert Blau in an unparalleled reappraisal of dominant American identity, culture, and history.
Anthony Kubiak is Associate Professor of English, University of South Florida. He is also author of Stages of Terror: Terrorism, Ideology, and Coercion as Theatre History.
In the 1970s, Yugoslavia emerged as a dynamic environment for conceptual and performance art. At the same time, it pursued its own form of political economy of socialist self-management. Alienation Effects argues that a deep relationship existed between the democratization of the arts and industrial democracy, resulting in a culture difficult to classify. The book challenges the assumption that the art emerging in Eastern Europe before 1989 was either “official” or “dissident” art; and shows thatthe break up of Yugoslavia was not a result of “ancient hatreds” among its peoples but instead came from the distortion and defeat of the idea of self-management.
The case studies include mass performances organized during state holidays; proto-performance art, such as the 1954 production of Waiting for Godot in a former concentration camp in Belgrade; student demonstrations in 1968; and body art pieces by Gina Pane, Joseph Beuys, Marina Abramovic, and others. Alienation Effects sheds new light on the work of well-known artists and scholars, including early experimental poetry by Slavoj Žižek, as well as performance and conceptual artists that deserve wider, international attention.
The American Pipe Dream examines the many iterations of addiction as it was performed over the first half of the twentieth century, working from a massive archive of previously ignored material. Because the stage-addict became the primary way the U.S. public learned about addiction and drug use, Shulman argues that performance was essential in creating the addict in America’s cultural imagination. He demonstrates how modern-day perceptions of addiction and of the addict emerge from a complex history of accumulation and revision that spanned the Progressive Era, the Roaring Twenties, and the Great Depression.
Chapters look at how theatre, film, and popular culture linked the Chinese immigrant and opium smoking; the early attacks on doctors for their part in the creation of addicts; the legislation of addiction as a criminal condition; the comic portrayals of addiction; the intersection of Black, jazz, and drug cultures through cabaret performance; and the linkage between narcotic inebriation and artistic inspiration. The American Pipe Dream creates active connections between these case studies, demonstrating how this history has influenced our contemporary understanding, treatment, and legislation of drug use and addiction.
"Tyler Hoffman brings a fresh perspective to the subject of performance poetry, and this comes at an excellent time, when there is such a vast interest across the country and around the world in the performance of poetry. He makes important connections, explaining things in a manner that remains provocative, interesting, and accessible."
---Jay Parini, Middlebury College
American Poetry in Performance: From Walt Whitman to Hip Hop is the first book to trace a comprehensive history of performance poetry in America, covering 150 years of literary history from Walt Whitman through the rap-meets-poetry scene. It reveals how the performance of poetry is bound up with the performance of identity and nationality in the modern period and carries its own shifting cultural politics. This book stands at the crossroads of the humanities and the social sciences; it is a book of literary and cultural criticism that deals squarely with issues of "performance," a concept that has attained great importance in the disciplines of anthropology and sociology and has generated its own distinct field of performance studies. American Poetry in Performance will be a meaningful contribution both to the field of American poetry studies and to the fields of cultural and performance studies, as it focuses on poetry that refuses the status of fixed aesthetic object and, in its variability, performs versions of race, class, gender, and sexuality both on and off the page.
Relating the performance of poetry to shifting political and cultural ideologies in the United States, Hoffman argues that the vocal aspect of public poetry possesses (or has been imagined to possess) the ability to help construct both national and subaltern communities. American Poetry in Performance explores public poets' confrontations with emergent sound recording and communications technologies as those confrontations shape their mythologies of the spoken word and their corresponding notions about America and Americanness.
Gross anatomy, the study of anatomical structures that can be seen by unassisted vision, has long been a subject of fascination for artists. For most modern viewers, however, the anatomy lesson—the technically precise province of clinical surgeons and medical faculties—hardly seems the proper breeding ground for the hybrid workings of art and theory. We forget that, in its early stages, anatomy pursued the highly theatrical spirit of Renaissance science, as painters such as Rembrandt and Da Vinci and medical instructors like Fabricius of Aquapendente shared audiences devoted to the workings of the human body. Anatomy Live: Performance and the Operating Theatre, a remarkable consideration of new developments on the stage, as well as in contemporary writings of theorists such as Donna Haraway and Brian Massumi, turns our modern notions of the dissecting table on its head—using anatomical theatre as a means of obtaining a fresh perspective on representations of the body, conceptions of subjectivity, and own knowledge about science and the stage. Critically dissecting well-known exhibitions like Body Worlds and The Visible Human Project and featuring contributions from a number of diverse scholars on such subjects as the construction of spectatorship and the implications of anatomical history, Anatomy Live is not to be missed by anyone with an interest in this engaging intersection of science and artistic practice.
After a career working and living with American Indians and studying their traditions, Barre Toelken has written this sweeping study of Native American folklore in the West. Within a framework of performance theory, cultural worldview, and collaborative research, he examines Native American visual arts, dance, oral tradition (story and song), humor, and patterns of thinking and discovery to demonstrate what can be gleaned from Indian traditions by Natives and non-Natives alike. In the process he considers popular distortions of Indian beliefs, demystifies many traditions by showing how they can be comprehended within their cultural contexts, considers why some aspects of Native American life are not meant to be understood by or shared with outsiders, and emphasizes how much can be learned through sensitivity to and awareness of cultural values.
Winner of the 2004 Chicago Folklore Prize, The Anguish of Snails is an essential work for the collection of any serious reader in folklore or Native American studies.
In Animated by Uncertainty, Joshua D. Rubin analyzes South African rugby through the lens of aesthetic politics. Building on 17 months of ethnographic research with rugby coaches, players, and administrators, the author argues that rugby is a form of performance and further that the qualities that define rugby shape the political ends to which the sport can be put. In this respect, Animated by Uncertainty demonstrates that theories of sporting politics cannot afford to overlook the qualities of the sports themselves, and it provides a theoretical approach to illustrate how these qualities can be studied. The book also analyzes the ways that apartheid and colonialism inhere in South African institutions and practices.Drawing inspiration from the observation that South Africans could always abandon rugby if they chose to do so, Rubin highlights how the continuing significance of rugby as a form of performance brings traces of South Africa's apartheid and colonial past into the country's contemporary political moment.
While the later work of the great Modernist poet Marianne Moore was hugely popular during her final two decades, since her death critics have condemned it as trivial. This book challenges that assessment: with fresh readings of many of the late poems and of the iconic, cross-dressing public persona Moore developed to deliver them, Apparition of Splendor demonstrates that Moore used her late-life celebrity in daring and innovative ways to activate egalitarian principles that had long animated her poetry. Dressed as George Washington in cape and tricorn and writing about accessible topics like sports, TV shows, holidays, love, activism, mortality and celebrity itself, she reached a wide cross-section of Americans, encouraging them to consider what democracy means in their daily lives, particularly around issues of gender, sexuality, racial integration, class, age, and immigration. Moore actively sought out publication in popular venues (like Vogue, The New Yorker, and the Saturday Evening Post, etc.) and wrote on material chosen to directly appeal to the audiences there, influencing younger contemporaries, including poets like Ashbery, O’Hara, and Bishop, and artists like Warhol, Yoko Ono, and Ray Johnson.
"Apparition of Splendor is brilliant and necessary. It provides an extended look at Marianne Moore’s late poetry that no other book-length study has taken on…. Gregory’s deep expertise is evident throughout. Her discussions make visible startling networks of connections between poems, and – while maintaining keen focus on the late poems – briskly but sensitively draw upon the earlier poems to clarify continuities and suggest transformations. Her archival and extra-literary research, in Moore’s papers and in regard to general cultural contexts, is wonderfully on display with every page.
The subject of Moore’s late poetry is woefully understudied, and this book will conduct an important intervention in critical tendencies to dismiss this body of work. Apparition of Splendor is a major contribution to Moore studies and to studies of 20th-century American poetry.”
- Linda Kinnahan, Duquesne University, author of Feminist Modernism, Poetics, and the New Economy: Mina Loy, Lola Ridge, and Marianne Moore
Published by the University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
Performance artist and scholar E. Patrick Johnson’s provocative study examines how blackness is appropriated and performed—toward widely divergent ends—both within and outside African American culture. Appropriating Blackness develops from the contention that blackness in the United States is necessarily a politicized identity—avowed and disavowed, attractive and repellent, fixed and malleable. Drawing on performance theory, queer studies, literary analysis, film criticism, and ethnographic fieldwork, Johnson describes how diverse constituencies persistently try to prescribe the boundaries of "authentic" blackness and how performance highlights the futility of such enterprises.
Johnson looks at various sites of performed blackness, including Marlon Riggs’s influential documentary Black Is . . . Black Ain’t and comedic routines by Eddie Murphy, David Alan Grier, and Damon Wayans. He analyzes nationalist writings by Amiri Baraka and Eldridge Cleaver, the vernacular of black gay culture, an oral history of his grandmother’s experience as a domestic worker in the South, gospel music as performed by a white Australian choir, and pedagogy in a performance studies classroom. By exploring the divergent aims and effects of these performances—ranging from resisting racism, sexism, and homophobia to excluding sexual dissidents from the black community—Johnson deftly analyzes the multiple significations of blackness and their myriad political implications. His reflexive account considers his own complicity, as ethnographer and teacher, in authenticating narratives of blackness.
Foregrounding critical questions about the tension between the study of drama as literature versus the study of performance, Melinda Powers investigates the methodological problems that arise in some of the latest research on ancient Greek theatre. She examines key issues and debates about the fifth-century theatrical space, audience, chorus, performance style, costuming, properties, gesture, and mask, but instead of presenting a new argument on these topics, Powers aims to understand her subject better by exploring the shared historical problems that all scholars confront as they interpret and explain Athenian tragedy.
A case study of Euripides’s Bacchae, which provides more information about performance than any other extant tragedy, demonstrates possible methods for reconstructing the play’s historical performance and also the inevitable challenges inherent in that task, from the limited sources and the difficulty of interpreting visual material, to the risks of conflating actor with character and extrapolating backward from contemporary theatrical experience.
As an inquiry into the study of theatre and performance, an introduction to historical writing, a reference for further reading, and a clarification of several general misconceptions about Athenian tragedy and its performance, this historiographical analysis will be useful to specialists, practitioners, and students alike.