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Codifying the National Self

Spectators, Actors and the American Dramatic Text


Edited By Barbara Ozieblo and María Dolores Narbona-Carrión

Theater has always been the site of visionary hopes for a reformed national future and a space for propagating ideas, both cultural and political, and such a conceptualization of the histrionic art is all the more valuable in the post-9/11 era. The essays in this volume address the concept of «Americanness» and the perceptions of the «alien» – as ethnic, class or gendered minorities – as dealt with in the work of American playwrights from Anna Cora Mowatt, through Rachel Crothers or Susan Glaspell, and on to Sam Shepard, David Mamet, Nilo Cruz or Wallace Shawn. The authors of the essays come from a multi-national university background that includes the United States, the United Arab Emirates and various countries of the European Community. In recognition of the multiple components of drama, the essays for the volume were selected in order to exemplify different aspects and theories of theater studies: the playwright, the play, the audience and the actor are all examined as part of the theatrical experience that serves to formulate American national identity.


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Theo/teleological Narrative and the Narratee’s Rebellion in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America 153


Theo/teleological Narrative and the Narratee’s Rebellion in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America Claus-Peter NEUMANN University of Zaragoza at Teruel In scholarship on Tony Kushner’s Angels in America various authors have discerned a connection between the view on history the play projects, on the one hand, and its presentation of Mormonism and issues of Judaic theology, on the other. Most of these authors perceive this connection as a parallelism, somewhat accusingly reading the play as embracing a theological and teleological conception of history. David Savran, for instance, singles out Mormonism as one of the “primary sources for the play’s theory of history and utopia” (108), suggesting that the idea of historical development the play conveys correlates to the Mormon’s teleological vision of progress with its emphasis on “the [North-American] continent as the promised land” (121), while it also constructs “the theological [...] as a transcendent category into which politics and history finally disappear” (125). In a similar vein, Allen J. Frantzen includes both Jews and Mormons in “the valorized nations and races in the play” for the mere fact that they “have migrated” (145), thereby implicitly repeating Savran’s argument that a movement to- wards a telos is how Kushner’s play conceives of historical processes. James Miller puts all these alleged analogies into a nutshell by calling the play a “Mormonized Old Testament history” (74). In contraposition to these views, this paper aims to demonstrate that, rather than embracing either Judaism or Mormonism and their theologi- cal and teleological conceptions of history, Angels...

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