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Underground Theater

Theorizing Mobility through Modern Subway Dramas

Sunny Stalter-Pace

This article begins from the premise that modern American drama provides a useful and understudied archive of representations of mobility. It focuses on plays set on the New York City subway, using the performance studies concept of “restored behavior” to understand the way that these plays repeat and heighten the experience of subway riding. Through their repetitions, they make visible the psychological consequences of ridership under the historical and cultural constraints of the interwar period. Elmer Rice's 1929 play The Subway is read as a particularly rich exploration of the consequences of female passenger's presumed passivity and sexualization in this era. The Subway and plays like it enable scholars of mobility to better understand the ways that theatrical texts intervene in cultural conversations about urban transportation.

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Julie Sanders

There is much current interest in walking as a social and physiological practice in disciplines from literature to geography, from anthropology to performance studies. 'Walking Studies' impact Shakespearean scholarship and in particular work relating to Shakespeare-freighted sites such as Stratford-upon-Avon, where the loaded discourses of tourism and personal encounter are predominant in the practical experience of visitors. This article asks what it might mean, either for the individual or the collective, to 'walk with Shakespeare' and whether the 'Shakespeare' that we locate in these experiences is always already a construct, fashioned to feed the demands of a national economy and the gross national product by drawing millions of visitors to an otherwise fairly nondescript Midlands market town. It explores the possibility that walking with 'Shakespeare' may mean walking with an available icon but not with the complex textual, performative, and historical Shakespeares at the heart of academic scholarship.

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Margaret Litvin

To my knowledge, this is the first essay collection in any language to be devoted to Arab appropriations of Shakespeare. Studies of international Shakespeare appropriation have mushroomed over the past fifteen to twenty years. Excitement began to build in the 1990s, as several lines of academic inquiry converged. Translation theorists found in Shakespeare’s plays a convenient (because widely known and prestigious) test case. Scholars in performance studies, having noted how sharply local context could influence a play’s staging and interpretation, saw a need to account for ‘intercultural’ performances of Shakespeare in various languages and locales. Marxist scholars became interested in the fetishisation of Shakespeare as a British cultural icon which, in turn, was used to confer cultural legitimacy on the project of capitalist empire-building. Scholars of postcolonial drama and literature explored how the periphery responded. The ‘new Europe’ provided another compelling set of examples. All this scholarship has developed quickly and with a great sense of urgency. Shakespeareans in many countries have contributed. By now there is a rich bibliography on Shakespeare appropriation in India, China, Japan, South Africa, Israel and many countries in Latin America and Eastern and Western Europe.