Browse results

Acts of Resistance in Late-Modernist Theatre

Writing and Directing in Contemporary Theatre Practice


Richard Murphet

In Acts of Resistance in Late-Modernist Theatre, Richard Murphet presents a close analysis of the theatre practice of two ground-breaking artists – Richard Foreman and Jenny Kemp – active over the late twentieth and the early twenty-first century. In addition, he tracks the development of a form of ‘epileptic’ writing over the course of his own career as writer/director.
Murphet argues that these three auteurs have developed subversive alternatives to the previously dominant forms of dramatic realism in order to re-think the relationship between theatre and reality. They write and direct their own work, and their artistic experimentation is manifest in the tension created between their content and their form. Murphet closely investigates how the works are made, rather than focusing upon an interpretation of their meaning. Through an examination of working practices, we gain a deeper understanding of the nature of a paradigm shift in theatre launched by late modernism.

Postmodern Pirates

Tracing the Development of the Pirate Motif with Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean


Susanne Zhanial

Postmodern Pirates offers a comprehensive analysis of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series and the pirate motif through the lens of postmodern theories. Susanne Zhanial shows how the postmodern elements determine the movies’ aesthetics, narratives, and character portrayals, but also places the movies within Hollywood’s contemporary blockbuster machinery. The book then offers a diachronic analysis of the pirate motif in British literature and Hollywood movies. It aims to explain our ongoing fascination with the maritime outlaw, focuses on how a text’s cultural background influences the pirate’s portrayal, and pays special attention to the aspect of gender. Through the intertextual references in Pirates of the Caribbean, the motif’s development is always tied to Disney’s postmodern movie series.

Stoicism and Performance

A Joyful Materialism


Cormac Power

Power’s Stoicism and Performance presents Stoicism as a means of navigating key debates and concepts in contemporary theatre and performance. Stoicism has influenced many of the most cited radical thinkers in the discipline of theatre and performance studies; for instance Deleuze, Foucault, Kristeva, Agamben. A central aim of this work is to bring Stoicism more explicitly into the fold of the discipline, and to use Stoicism to think differently about performance. With a series of chapters covering themes such as performativity, embodiment, emotion, affect and spectatorship, this book finds points of encounter between Stoicism and contemporary understandings and practices of performance. It presents these encounters as modes of transformative experience in relation to our being in the world.

Gewaltsames Wissen

Szenographien der Desubjektivierung

Edited by Adam Czirak and Barbara Gronau

Konstitution sowie Destitution von Subjekten ist auf die strukturbildende Kraft von Szenen angewiesen. Welche inszenatorischen Elemente sind an Bildung und Destabilisierung, ja Auslöschung des Subjekts beteiligt? Welches Wissen wird darin produziert?
In einem interdisziplinären Ansatz konturiert der Band das Verhältnis von Wahrnehmung und Wissen, Politik und szenischer Öffentlichkeit entlang der Schwerpunkte Tribunal, Folter und künstlerischen Verfahren der Selbstverletzung. So wie Tribunale an der Schnittstelle von Rechtsperformanz und Theatralität operieren, ist in der Folter die Verletzung des Subjekts Teil eines Gefüges aus Geheimhaltung, Offenbarung, Mitwisserschaft. Eperimentell erprobte und szenisch aufgeführte Desubjektivierung in künstlerischen Verfahren zeigen kulturelle und gesellschaftliche Restriktionen ebenso wie Vorstellungen über das Subjekt und dessen Grenzen.


Edited by Dirk Vanderbeke and Brett Cooke

The contributors to this volume share the assumption that popular narrative, when viewed with an evolutionary lens, offers an incisive index into human nature. In theory, narrative art could take a near infinity of possible forms. In actual practice, however, particular motifs, plot patterns, stereotypical figures, and artistic devices persistently resurface, indicating specific predilections frequently at odds with our actual living conditions. Our studies explore various media and genres to gauge the impact of our evolutionary inheritance, in interdependence with the respective cultural environments, on our aesthetic appreciation. As they suggest, research into mass culture is not only indispensable for evolutionary criticism but may also contribute to our understanding of prehistoric selection pressures that still influence modern preferences in popular narrative.

Contributions by David Andrews, James Carney, Mathias Clasen, Brett Cooke, Tamás Dávid-Barrett, Tom Dolack, Kathryn Duncan, Isabel Behncke Izquierdo, Joe Keener, Alex C. Parrish, Todd K. Platts, Anna Rotkirch, Judith P. Saunders, Michelle Scalise Sugiyama, Dirk Vanderbeke, and Sophia Wege.


Alex C. Parrish


Banal classicism describes a wide variety of behaviors – from sophisticated conversations among artists who reinterpret classical forms to actions as mundane as employing cartoon illustrations of Roman dictators to make one’s pizza franchise seem more genuinely Italian. What unites these varied behaviors is the attempt to borrow ethos – either directly from the classical world or from previous borrowers. The desire to benefit from the reputation or status of another is not confined to our classical past, and indeed is not even a uniquely human behavior; many examples of borrowing ethos exist in kingdom Animalia. In biological terms, banal classicism could be defined as deceptive mimicry meant to persuade receivers by adopting the ethos of another individual or group. Among primates this behavior is ubiquitous. Juvenile baboons borrow ethos to undermine the rigid hierarchies of their groups. They employ deceptive fear calls to make a parent think they are being injured, but only when the juveniles are competing for resources with an individual who is more highly ranked than them but ranked lower than the parent to whom they are calling. In these cases, the rival is quickly displaced; the parent’s status within the group persuades them to leave. These baboons present but one example of homologous animal rhetorics that can help us better understand the cognitive underpinnings of rhetorical behavior. By analyzing examples from nonhuman behavior as well as human popular literature and film (the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Dragonslayer), this chapter will demonstrate that there is a wide range of behavior among human and nonhuman animals that demonstrate borrowed ethos, the basis of banal classicism.


Mathias Clasen and Todd K. Platts


The slasher film, which depicts teenagers stalked by homicidal maniacs, has been experiencing waves of intense popularity since the late 1970s. In explaining the paradoxical appeal of such films, we argue that an integrative analytical framework is required. Such a framework pays attention to the evolved psychological dispositions brought into play by slasher films, to the sociocultural context that such films may reflect, and to the film-industrial factors that make such films particularly attractive from a production point of view. We discuss the entire history of modern slasher films but take John Carpenter’s famous slasher Halloween (1978) as out analytical focus. Our claim is that a multi-level analytical framework guided by biocultural theory is necessary to making sense of the slasher film.


Brett Cooke


The brilliant but brief popularity of opera seria poses a challenge to evolutionary criticism: how can a work of art be temporarily, but not permanently, in fashion, when the genetic underpinnings of our aesthetics adapt at a comparably glacial pace? Some of this may be explained by the immediate, rapidly shifting, environment, including contemporary competition for our attention. The art of the great castrati exploited novel expressive potentials of the voice, but that and the lurid provision of sex and violence evidently soon wore off. Nevertheless, in the course of the genre’s failure Handel discovered the eventual seeds of opera’s future lasting success in exploiting its potential to project nuances of actual human personality.

Imagining the End of the World

A Biocultural Analysis of Post-Apocalyptic Fiction


Mathias Clasen


Post-apocalyptic fiction taps into the deepest springs of ancient and evolved emotions, but it found in modernity a particularly hospitable cultural ecology and a particularly receptive audience. Focusing on post-apocalyptic English language science fiction and horror literature of the Cold War era, I argue that a biocultural analytical framework is indispensable to making sense of this type of fiction. Post-apocalyptic stories function as a mental testing-ground where readers can cognitively and emotionally model the experience of living through the worst, and the genre prompts readers to reflect on the meaning of an existence that is always subject to radical change.


Brett Cooke and Dirk Vanderbeke