Je vous transmets l'envoi que je viens de recevoir de nos collègues chez Modern Drama. Il s'agit du numéro qui vient de paraître (printemps 2011).
Now Available at Modern Drama Online
Modern Drama –Volume 54, Number 1, Spring 2011 is now available at
This issue contains:
“I cannot live without a macaroon!” Food, Hunger, and the Dangers of Modern American Culture in Edna St. Vincent Millay's Aria da Capo
Most theatre-goers in 1919 would have recognized the dual significance of the banquet in Edna St. Vincent Millay's Aria da Capo as a reference to both the war effort and elite popular culture. Two years earlier, the Food Administration had launched an aggressive publicity and volunteer campaign for food conservation. The decadent food being eaten in the opening scene of the play, however, raises questions about the effectiveness of these efforts and the propaganda used to achieve them. At the same time, this banquet offers a parody of the growing entertainment and restaurant culture in New York City. By 1913, New York was the restaurant capital of the United States. Lobster palaces and other ostentatious dining establishments were hotspots for prosperous urbanites and the uptown theatre crowd – people seeking an escape from everyday life to indulge in material pleasures and the illusions of extreme wealth. The meanings associated with food here reinforce Millay's message about some of the dangerous excesses of American culture more broadly – a culture that often valued escapism over social and political engagement and encouraged audiences to forget history rather than to contemplate its consequences. Just as this play condemns the brutality of war and the coercive power of nationalistic propaganda, it warns that the escapist pleasures of entertainment and modernist art could be socially irresponsible as well. They could, as the title of the play suggests, lead people and nations into thoughtless repetition, into committing the same atrocities over and over again.
The Body and the Law in the Mexico/U.S. Borderlands: Violence and Violations in El viaje de los cantores by Hugo Salcedo and Backyard by Sabina Berman
The violence, lawlessness, and death currently experienced in the borderlands of Mexico and the United States are memorably portrayed in two Mexican works: Hugo Salcedo's 1989 play El viaje de los cantores and the 2004 screenplay Backyard by Sabina Berman (film released in 2009). Dramatizing the tragic death of eighteen illegal immigrants in a railroad car, Salcedo uses music and poetry to confront the audience with the frequently hidden horrors of life in the borderlands, while the language of film allows Berman to deal with a series of gruesome murders of women workers in Ciudad Juárez that have remained largely unsolved. Salcedo's El viaje de los cantores and Berman's Backyard allow us to walk into a conflicted geographical space – the U.S./Mexican border –recognizing its tragic consequences, denouncing its horrors, and crying out for justice. These works also translate into a stylized discourse tragic experiences that have been mostly documented using the languages of journalism, statistics, economics, law, sociology, and criminology. The article argues that the proliferation of languages and analytical angles to deal with actual human tragedies in an artistic context enables El viaje and Backyard to confront the audience with the twists and turns of political and theatrical communication in all their similarities and contradictions. Ultimately, both writers conceive of artistic communication as a powerful strategy to translate – Salcedo into the language of poetry and music and Berman into the discourse of ethics – the multiple problems experienced by Mexico within its own borders and in its relationship with the United States.
A Hasty Kind of Genius: Noël Coward's Hay Fever
Noël Coward's Hay Fever is a somewhat overlooked jewel of the Coward canon, even as it illustrates why Coward the writer has defied early predictions and remained a vital cultural figure. Written with great haste in 1925, the play examines post-war edginess about interpersonal trust and the games people play to protect themselves. Coward drew, in part, upon the eccentricities of renowned actress Laurette Taylor to fashion his central character Judith Bliss and, through her, reveals many of his own insecurities about trusting others. The result is a play not only of rapid-fire machinations but also of brittle but telling characterizations that have not lost their timeliness.
Impossible Representation: Edward Albee and the End of Liberal Tragedy
In modern Tragedy, Raymond Williams expounds on the democratization of the tragic hero and the emergence of a literary formula that focused exclusively on the moral or ethical predicaments of the individual, whose private, quasi-transcendental suffering gained prestige in works by Henrik Ibsen and Arthur Miller. This essay argues that Edward Albee's 2002 play The Goat; or Who is Sylvia? poses a challenge to this liberal formula for tragic theatre and critiques the predominant paradigm of American political life that it embodies. As a dramatic experiment that documents the rupture of the fabric of a family, The Goat tests the limits of generic accommodation, powerfully connecting the event of genre renovation to political regeneration. Albee's deliberations on perversion and hysteria, comic seriousness, and political self-knowledge call into question the legitimacy of liberal contractarianism, illustrating how liberalism is, itself, experienced as contingent and deeply inadequate.
The End of Rhetoric and the Residuum of Pain: Bodying Language in the Theatre of Howard Barker
Language is the setting, the referent, and the subjection of Barker's theatre, an attempt to read experience, to map out – or struggle through – a scaffolding of tropes that can hint at a structure of Being. In the exhaustion of language's moves and counter-moves, what remains is the ravaged body, the death mask of a différed humanism – pain. This article essays a close reading of Howard Barker's epic work The Ecstatic Bible, utilizing a strategy of rhetorical mapping following the work of Paul de Man, confronting language with its limit (or perhaps its apotheosis) in the pain-wracked body, whose terrible vulnerability has been explored at length in the work of Elaine Scarry. The Ecstatic Bible stands revealed as a fable of deconstruction worked through, live, before the audience.
Modern Drama was founded in 1958 and is the most prominent journal in English to
focus on dramatic literature. The terms "modern" and "drama" are the subject of
continuing and fruitful debate, but the journal has been distinguished by the
excellence of its close readings of both canonical and lesser-known dramatic
texts from a range of methodological perspectives. The journal features refereed
articles written from a variety of geo-political points of view which enhance
our understanding, both formal and historical, of the dramatic literature of the
past two centuries; there is also an extensive book review section.
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