The Geography of Modern Drama
The first book-length study of the notion of place and its implications in modern drama
Staging Place: The Geography of Modern Drama reimagines the content and continuities of theater history and exposes underlying dialogues between "home and homelessness, belonging and exile"—a century-long struggle with the meaning and power of place, which the author terms "geopathology." By reading canonical works in conjunction with contemporary ones, Chaudhuri charts the evolution of a dramatic paradigm with profound theatrical and thematic implications.
Chaudhuri starts with a discussion of a "poetics of exile" in early modern drama, where the figure of home is constructed as a locus of two conflicting impulses: the desire to find a stable site for individual identity and the desire to deterritorialize the self. By mid-century, she argues, a new discourse of "failed homecoming" begins to displace this geopathic model and replace the poetics of exile with a grim anti-poetics of immigration. She then employs postmodern and postcolonial theories of place and culture to define the emerging multiculturalism as a creative reworking of the figures of home, homecoming, homelessness, immigration and exile.
Praise / Awards
"This is a book of real originality. Its treatment of space in modern drama is elegant and powerful. . . ."
—William B. Worthen, Northwestern University
"This sophisticated and well-written study for graduate students and their teachers explores modern drama's preoccupation with the seemingly irreconcilable discontinuities between the notions of home and homelessness, belonging and exile. . . . The readings of individual plays are fresh and invigorating. . . ."
"Staging Place is a powerfully written book, deft in its handling of familiar and unfamiliar plays alike and eclectic in its use of theatrical sources."
—Essays in Theatre/ Études théâtrales
"[Chaudhuri] convinces me that the geopathology of one's unique national identity in a transnational world and a multicultural society is a primary identity problem and a main focus of much of our important theatre. . . . This is a book that will be cited often in the years to come and, yes, we will talk about a play's palatiality."
—Semiotica, Volume 123, Nos. 1/2, 1999
"After reading Staging Place, it will be hard to think in the same way about that touchstone quality of modern literature, its 'sense of place' with all the evocations this phrase has of the universal being signified by the local and enunciated by its idiomatic voice. . . . Thanks to Chaudhuri, place in fact has been rendered non-static, not exclusively a quality of setting but also a quality of action; place is dynamic. This fundamental insight . . . has great power and wide application to theatre studies in general. Finally, Una Chaudhuri was right to work it out through readings of fifteen assorted and varied plays, rather than laying it down in the abstract, where it might not persuade us of its wide-ranging applicability. This is a book that will be cited often in the years to come. . . ."
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