Edges of Loss

From Modern Drama to Postmodern Theory
Mark Pizzato
Investigates the reasons for postmodern theory's fascination with theater


One of the curious characteristics of much postmodern theory is the attention it has paid to theater, an art form seemingly more in danger of extinction today than perhaps ever in its history. Mark Pizzato interrogates this curiosity, revealing it as an obsession with the destruction of social institutions and the "universal truths" of modernism. Edges of Loss explores the theatrics of loss in the minds of authors, performers, spectators, and the conflicting social orders of perversion, taboo, and the sacred. Theater as a marginal form reveals the unstable edges of community and the ways such community is imagined and staged.

The author initiates his approach to the question of loss through an investigation of the psychohistory of modern and postmodern stages: the return to ritual chorus and the belief in poetry in Eliot's modern poetic drama, the nostalgia for a lost ritual "womb" in Nietzsche's proto-postmodern views of ancient tragedy. Building on this approach, Pizzato employs the techniques of psycho-biography to reveal a common concern among both modernists and postmodernists for the stage edge as a border, a gap, an ambiguous juncture between the artist as a self and the artist as a voice of the community. In the end, Edges of Loss establishes this concern as a concern for the lost mother and a lost symbiosis with something deeper and more true.

Mark Pizzato is Assistant Professor, Department of Dance and Theatre, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Praise / Awards

  • "An extraordinary and original study. . . a book that wrestles with many current issues in theater and theory without submitting to the common vagaries of those fields of study."
    —Anthony Kubiak
  • "The stage edge as the site of ontological loss, a taboo boundary between spectator and performer, is a compelling theoretical construct, and Pizzato applies it in evocative ways. He makes a strong case for modern drama's nostalgia for communal power and offers a nuanced vision of the theme of martyrdom by honing its postmodern edges."
  • ". . . offers provocative revisions of several canonical dramatists and a useful exposition of Lacanian and post-Lacanian cultural theory in relation to dramatic analysis and performance studies."
    —Erik Weissengruber, Univ. of Minnesota, Modern Drama, Summer 2000
  • ". . . what Pizzato has given us is a provocative reading of high modernism, one that causes us to reassess the psychological impulses that underlie postmodern performance."
    —John Lutterbie, SUNY at Stony Brook, Theatre Journal, March 2000

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 240pp.
  • 5 photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1998
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10914-2

Add to Cart
  • $84.95 U.S.