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Essays on Modern American Drama: Williams, Miller, …

Across the cultural spectrum (literature, drama, music, visual art, dance) and also in the realm of social thought (sociology, historiography, philosophy), artists and intellectuals found new ways to explore the historical experiences of black America and the contemporary experiences of black life in the urban North.(Nathan Irvin Huggins, Voices From the Harlem Renaissance) Challenging white paternalism and racism, African-American artists and intelle...

Reading Contemporary African American Drama: Fragments …

Book Reviews ESTHER HARRlOTT. American Voices: Five Contemporary Playwrights ill Essays and Interviews. Jefferson, NC and London: McFarland 1988. Pp. xv, 189. $24.95. The five voices selected by Esther Harriot! for her study of contemporary American drama are those of Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, David Marnel, Charles Fuller, and Marsha Norman. Why those five? Harriott lists three major criteria determining her selection process. To begin with, all five are, roughly, of the same generation, playwrights "who have come to prominence during the last two decades" (p. xi). Second, they have all won a Pulitzer Prize, which, "though no infallible guarantee of merit, is noneth~less a significant measure of critical recognition" (p. xi). And finally, "the five playwrights are voices of the different Americas of white and black, male and female, Northern 'ethnics' and Southern WASPs" (p. xiii). As Harriott's subtitle indicates, the structure of American Voices features two different sets of voices, a duet of essay and interview. First we hear the playwright's voice as it sounds in his or her plays, a voice analysed by Harriott (and thus further refracted through her voice) in a critical essay evaluating the playwright's theatrical career. Each essay is then followed by an interview in which the playwright's voice is heard more directly, unmediated. The structural duality is broken only in the case of Sam Shepard, whose voice - in this respect as in many others - remains singular; as Harriott laments in her Introduction, Shepard failed to respond to her request to meet with him, "which was consistent with his frequently stated aversion to being interviewed" (p. xv). This modem-day "Shepard's lament" is by now becoming a familiar refrain. David Savran, in his 1988 book of interviews with twenty contemporary American playwrights, In Their Own Words , similarly singles out Shepard as his sole hold-out. Perhaps Shepard was simply too busy talking to journalists at Esquire and Interview (to cite only his two most recently published interviews); that "aversion to being interviewed" apparently applies only to academics. On the basis of her analytical essays, Esther Harriott is definitely an academic, the Book Reviews 307 source of both her strengths and her weaknesses. The essays are, on the whole, thoughtful, judicious, perceptive, well written, cogently argued introductions to the playwrights' work; there is no doubt that students ofcontemporary American drama will find them useful. But Harriott's approach is relentlessly thematic. The chapter titles say it all: "Sam Shepard: Inventing Identities"; "Charles Fuller: The Quest for Justice"; Marsha Norman: Getting Out." Each dramatist's work is reduced to a central theme which is then doggedly pursued play after play. However skilled and talented the pursuer (and Harriott is fortunately both), the pursuit invariably becomes narrow and constricted. Far too little attention is paid to dramatic form, to the theatricalization of theme, to the effect of the plays in performance. Though I could choose many examples to illustrate the limitations of Harriott's methodology, her analysis of Charles Fuller's A Soldier's Play will serve as well as any. ..A Soldier's Play is a realistic drama," Harrion writes (p. 110). But what realistic drama features direct address to the audience, a set composed of platforms at various levels (one of which is referred to as "limbo"), and a theatrical structure which simultaneously dramatizes past and present? Harriott further comments: "The effect ofC. J.'s suicide ... is dulled by reducing it to a few expository sentences. ·C. J. he hung hisself, Sir,' one of the men explains to Davenport" (p. 108). The effect of C. J. 's suicide, however, is communicated not primarily in words but in dramatic images and actions. Immediately prior to the suicide announcement, we see C. J. confined in prison (a prison "created" by lighting, by "a shadow of bars" cutting across the theatre space), the confinement suffocating him as he strums his despair on his guitar. I'm still haunted by the voice of Larry Riley, the original C. J. in the Negro Ensemble Company production, singing out his pain amid the imprisoning shadows. C. J. 's suicide is thus "experienced" in the text and in performance long before it is formally...

American Mythologies: Essays on Contemporary

Contemporary American Essays

From the information presented in my Lectures, the textbook and the above websites, answer the following questions: What contemporary issues is Colescott addressing in this work? What message do you think he is trying to communicate? How does he communicate this message? Why do you think he re-creates older masterpieces from the Western Art Historical cannon? Be sure to talk about issues such as: race, gender, class, American history, colors used, how the figures are depicted, and other elements of Colescott’s style.
Post your answer to the Discussion Board – Question 3 Discussion Essays and Responses. (Minimum 150 words) (20 points)
2) Respond to at least one other classmates’ response. Do you agree or disagree with their assessment? Why or why not? Post your response to the Discussion Board – Question 3 Discussion Essays and Responses. (Minimum 50 words) (5 points
Grading Criteria
Grading Criteria: You will be given points based on how thoroughly you answered the question. I will give you points for the following:

This study sheds light on the fake shelters that masters of deceit and pretense in modern and contemporary American drama take refuge into flee the harsh realities they are entrapped in and the agonies they suffer as a result of being deceitful. The study discerns four types of deceit that pervade the entire modern American dramatic canon: familial, political, aesthetic, and economic deception. Though these masters of deceit resort to using different forms of deceit, they all seem to unconsciously use self-deception or pretense as a psychological coping mechanism. The theoretical background of the study is based on the contemporary poetics of deceit stated in Loyal Rue’s Bythe Grace of Guile, Anthony Abbot’s The Vital Lie and Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death.

American Rhetoric: The Power of Oratory in the United …

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