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Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


For the greater part of the twentieth century, Anglo-European theories of drama and performance were associated with several questions of mostly Aristotelian derivation: whether the primary function of drama should be to delight or to instruct; to what extent drama truly holds “the mirror up to nature;” whether the essence of drama lies in the “T ext ” or in the performance; whether it is possible to achieve a “total theater” in which the constituent elements of character, P lot , music, gesture, and spectacle are inseparable; whether such key Aristotelian concepts as catharsis or hamartia are relevant to modern tragedy, or, for that matter, whether the received generic and structural categories – tragedy, comedy, climax, dénouement, and so forth – are relevant to the study of any drama, modern or otherwise. Dramatic theory during the last decades of the twentieth century variously adopted, interrogated, and reformulated this inheritance. It sought to reevaluate received theater history without focusing merely on the periods traditionally centered by scholars and practitioners, the ancient Greek, the European Renaissance, and the European Modern. Because new research into theater historiography has challenged and reconfigured the received criteria for determining artistic “value,” scholars have become at once more cautious and more open in designating what might qualify as the “significant” ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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