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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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Food, Cultural Identity, and the Body. New Recipes for Latinas’ Emerging Selves 215


Food, Cultural Identity, and the Body New Recipes for Latinas’ Emerging Selves Esther ÁLVAREZ-LÓPEZ University of Oviedo The conspicuous references to food, cooking and the body in plays written by Latinas clearly evidence the importance they accord to these interconnected issues. Aware as they are of the societal function of theater and of the fact that it is “far more engrossing when audience members can readily relate to and identify with what they see on stage,” (Arrizón 114) dramatists address a particular audience of Latina women for whom these themes may have paramount “weight” at some point in their lives. Playwrights thus attempt to show in their plays how these three factors conform and affect Latina subjectivity. In them they deal with the conception of food and cooking as signifiers of culture and of the self, at the same time that they carry out a politics of identity and visibility which insists on the materiality of the body. In this way, they bring to the fore the corpo/reality of Latina women, a metaphor for the embodiment of difference, femaleness and Latinidad. With the performances of (female) bodies in revolt these dramatists also critique pervasive cultural standards of anorectic beauty in vogue, denouncing the current participation of women in, and their subjugation to, all sorts of noxious processes of bodily control. To counteract the damaging effects of such practices on Latinas’ subjectivities, plays are populated with women who are anything but slim (Josefina López’ Real Women Have Curves1)...

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