American history as theater, and theater as the heart of American life
From the earliest Puritan displays of piety and rectitude to the present-day epidemic of staged school massacres, the history of America has been characterized by a dual impulse: to cast public event and character as high drama, and to dismiss theater and theatricalization as un-American, even evil. This book rethinks American history as theater, and theater as the ethos and substance of American life, ironically repudiated at every turn by the culture it produces.
Beginning with the writings of John Winthrop and others, through the Federalist and "romantic" stages of American cultural life, and into the modern and contemporary periods, Anthony Kubiak finds an America not usually discovered by traditional or materialist approaches to history. He deploys the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan, the cultural theory of SlavojZizek, and the performance theory of Herbert Blau in an unparalleled reappraisal of dominant American identity, culture, and history.
Anthony Kubiak is Associate Professor of English, University of South Florida. He is also author of Stages of Terror: Terrorism, Ideology, and Coercion as Theatre History.
Anthony Kubiak is Associate Professor of English at the University of South Florida. He is also the author of Stages of Terror: Terrorism, Ideology, and Coercion as Theatre History.
"Kubiak insists that America is an inherently theatrical culture, and explores its history through texts and events that recapitulate moments of aphasia, amnesia, blindness, hysteria, and grief. The writing is clear, convincing, and acute; this book will make an important addition to any American theatre (or even cultural history) course."- Heidi Slettedahl Macpherson
"In a post-9/11 America, when we seem more disposed than ever before to explain our woes by recourse to a variety of big, bad Others, it is particularly meaningful that Anthony Kubiak argues that what we need to explain is why children in our country shoot other children. . . . Here, he . . . argu[es] that it is our refusal of theatre that leads to a uniquely American brand of violence. . . . Agitated States urges us not to remember who we are, but to wake up to it for the first time. Virtual violence is not the problem; real violence is. We desperately need to get real. And we can only do this, Kubiak persuasively argues, if we dare to truly understand our American theatre."- Jodi Kanter, Southwest Missouri State Univ