Genealogies Of Cruelty: Alternative Theaters In An Early Modern World
My dissertation project is entitled Genealogies of Cruelty: Alternative Theaters in an Early Modern World and is directed by Mitchell Greenberg and Richard Klein. In it I argue for the possibility of finding a New World theater that exists in parallel with the formal theaters of France and Spain during the Early Modern period. Taking issue with the persistent absence of the New World and its inhabitants in Classical theater, I focus on travel narratives in an attempt to discover a New World stage. Antonin Artaud's principles of dramaturgy, which free the theater of a formal script and stage, along with Victor Turner's and Richard Schechner's theories on ritual and anthropological theater, offer a new framework from which marginalized subjects can be considered actors in the historical drama of conquest and colonization. Conversely, the Theater of Cruelty, which has been dismissed as a theater impossible to stage, is plausibly embodied in the anthropological theater of cannibalism and shamanism of the New World. By employing "theatricality" as an additional lens through which travel narratives can be read, I seek to contribute to the existing literature in my field by showing first, the presence of a theatrical stage in the New World, whose "performances" destabilized existing representations of European identities constructed by political documents known as histoires or relations. These performances, which I argue are examples of a theater of cruelty, contaminates the larger body of the text and cannibalize its primary meaning while never producing a secondary or tertiary discourse to supplant it. With the formal intention of European speech thus stolen by the performances embedded, embodied and entrenched within these histories and relations, these texts contaminate the political corpus of philosophical and juridical writings that simultaneously construct and experience an alternative founding of the New World and the making of its Other.
17th Century, Travel Narratives, French; Spanish, Artaud, Theater of Cruelty,; 20th century French theater
Ph. D., Romance Studies
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis