By Anthony James Kubiak

ISBN-10: 047209811X

ISBN-13: 9780472098118

From the earliest Puritan monitors of piety and rectitude to the present-day epidemic of staged university massacres, the background of the US has been characterised through a twin impulse: to solid public occasion and personality as excessive drama, and to brush off theater and theatricalization as un-American, even evil. This publication rethinks American historical past as theater, and theater because the ethos and substance of yank lifestyles, satirically 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'' phases of yankee cultural existence, and into the trendy and modern sessions, Anthony Kubiak unearths an the US now not frequently stumbled on by way of conventional or materialist ways to heritage. He deploys the psychoanalytic idea of Jacques Lacan, the cultural concept of SlavojZizek, and the functionality idea of Herbert Blau in an remarkable reappraisal of dominant American id, tradition, and historical past. 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 background .

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

Sample text

Here the cultural, political issue is less the appearance of ideology than ideologies of appearance. Moreover, these ideologies of appearance, which have been largely unseen throughout American history, have deep roots in that history and cul- ture and manifest themselves as demand for the oxymoronic mere appearance of the authentic-true salvation, an authentic American character and culture, the "true" historical archive, the eradication of "false consciousness," the theoretical certainty of uncertainty, and today, the preservation of "traditional" marginal cultural values.

And so I bade him farewell. But that very evening he was again at play I think among the students and when he saw me coming he slinked home and left his game Puritanism and the Early American Theaters of Cruelty 41 whereby I gather he is more afraid of me a poor, sinful worm than of God. (27) Although we might appreciate the severity of an absence without leave, Wigglesworth's outrage at finding his charge playing a game with fellow students later that day is unintentionally funny, although, as the editor of his diaries points out, Wigglesworth seems not to appreciate the ridiculousness of his own tirades, or his overzealous response.

Acting well might in fact be the best cover-up for a self that has denied God and his ways. My performance, in other words, finally refers to nothing but itself. It turns its back on life, as Augustine charges. The issue, ultimately, in the Puritan mind becomes the ability to construct one's own character, to construct one- self as a character, to construct character itself. Here is where the issue of the performative gives way, it seems to me, to theater. For performa- AGITATED STATES 34 tivity, as used, for example, by Judith Butler, denotes the conditions under which one becomes or "does" one's body/identity.

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

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