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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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The Contemporary Ethics of Violence. Cruz, Solis and Homeland Security 265


The Contemporary Ethics of Violence Cruz, Solis and Homeland Security Jon D. ROSSINI University of California, Davis On April 25, 2004 The New York Times published Deborah Sontag’s account of the life history of José Padilla, a US citizen of Puerto Rican descent who was arrested May 8, 2002 under suspicion of intending to construct a dirty bomb in collaboration with al-Qaeda.1 Padilla has been in government custody since that time, but he has yet to be charged with a specific crime, and according to Sontag: “[t]he government has asked the public and the courts to accept that Padilla would not be locked up incommunicado if he were not a danger to national security and a highly valuable intelligence source.” This demand for civic faith in the ability of US national leaders to make appropriate determinations of threats to national security supports a pre-emptive strategy that places the grounds for determining potential violence and culpability on a system of belief since no violence is allowed to occur. The government’s deployment of this strategy positions Padilla as one whose threat increases based on his ability to communicate with others and one who would be less likely to cooperate should he be given any access to others. This pre-emptive claim establishes a narrative of potential violence that Padilla has had little or no opportunity to rescript – his very ability to communicate is directly linked to his status as a threat. Mr. Padilla’s case is not only a strong reminder of the...

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