Agitated States: Performance in the American Theater of by Anthony James Kubiak

By Anthony James Kubiak

From the earliest Puritan screens of piety and rectitude to the present-day epidemic of staged university massacres, the heritage of the US has been characterised by means of a twin impulse: to forged public occasion and personality as excessive drama, and to push aside theater and theatricalization as un-American, even evil. This ebook rethinks American heritage as theater, and theater because the ethos and substance of yankee lifestyles, mockingly repudiated at each flip by means of the tradition it produces. starting with the writings of John Winthrop and others, throughout the Federalist and ''romantic'' levels of yank cultural lifestyles, and into the trendy and modern classes, Anthony Kubiak reveals an the United States no longer often came upon by way of conventional or materialist methods to historical past. He deploys the psychoanalytic idea of Jacques Lacan, the cultural thought of SlavojZizek, and the functionality concept of Herbert Blau in an unprecedented reappraisal of dominant American id, tradition, and background. Anthony Kubiak is affiliate Professor of English, collage of South Florida. he's additionally writer of levels of Terror: Terrorism, Ideology, and Coercion as Theatre heritage .

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Extra resources for Agitated States: Performance in the American Theater of Cruelty

Sample text

Consciousness, and that high consciousness which is theater, observes deceit and delusion as its own substance. But how can that observation be believed, made as it is by the deluded mind? More than the mere riddling quality of such a statement, however, is the deep anxiety over appearances that runs throughout much Puri- tan theology and metaphysics, an anxiety well noted by those writing about Puritan culture.

This, along with their penchant for observation and exactitude, moved quite easily into the strictures of commerce and the empirical sciences. These Puritans were a focused and deliberate people, to be sure, but full of vigor and life, appreciative of what life offered them in the plea- sures with which they surrounded themselves. Then, seemingly swimming against this revisionism, there was Michael Wigglesworth,'7 a dyspeptic, nosy moralizer obsessed with guilt, "a poor, sinful worm" undeserving even of God's wrath.

And it is the private and personal nature of the Puritanism and the Early American Theaters of Cruelty 39 diaries that generates this resistance-how do we know that what they represent was in any way typical of the "Puritan mind," or even that such a thing as a Puritan mind existed? And yet the form of the personal diary also resists the status of "mere" memory. In the diaries, after all, the observation of other selves (the Puritan village as institution) was shifted to the observation of self by self through the eye of the other, thus activating a consciousness that was grounded in mise-en-scene.

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