Revision as resistance in twentieth-century American drama Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Malburne-Wade, Meredith Marie
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Literary critics have long grappled with how to name, and how to process, texts that rely on earlier historical or literary moments as sources of inspiration and critique. Calling this process revision--the literal seeing again of that which has come before, my project seeks to demonstrate how American dramas consciously rewrite the past as a means of determined criticism and intentional resistance. While modern criticism often sees the act of revision or borrowing as derivative, this work uses Victor Turner's concept of the social drama (breach, crisis, redressive means, and resolution), and the concept of the liminal--put forth by Victor Turner, Arnold van Gennep, and Homi Bhabha--to argue for a more complicated view of revision. Examining works by Arthur Miller, William Carlos Williams, James Baldwin, Herman Melville, Richard Wright, Robert Lowell, and Lorraine Hansberry, this project demonstrates the ways in which American playwrights engage the past to create a theoretical space for challenging racism, colonialism, abuses of power, and other destructive forces. I argue that the rewriting of the past over the present generates the liminal, a threshold, through which we can purposefully examine assumptions, prejudices, and historical precedents. It is via this liminal moment that these playwrights hope to begin to construct an original future, one that releases us from the overarching control of the past.
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  • In Copyright
  • DeGuzmán, María
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2013

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