Changing the Subject

Marvin Carlson and Theatre Studies 1959-2009
Edited and with an Introduction by Joseph Roach
Foreword by Paula Vogel

Leading theater scholars on the major developments in their field over the past 50 years


The new field of theatre studies changed rapidly in the post-World War II, post-Sputnik expansion of higher education, driven by the expressive urgencies of the baby boom and the ferment of the revolutionary 1960s. Internationally focused, communicatively multilingual, and culturally provocative, theatre lent itself particularly well to the agendas of many constituencies, some of them violently opposed, in the arts and politics.

The remarkable career of one theatre scholar has mapped the issues, ideas, and methods of this emerging discipline during the most fertile period of its formation. Marvin Carlson's distinguished record of scholarship includes fifteen books and more than a hundred articles on the Western European and Arabic-speaking stages; he has also been a prolific translator, editor, and reviewer and has taught and inspired generations of students, many of whom have become major scholars in their own right. Changing the Subject collects newly commissioned essays by eminent scholars to create a casebook on the changes in the field over the past fifty years.

The elegant construction of this innovative collection allows readers to trace the evolution of major paradigms in theatre studies (including the drive to document historic performances, the rise of radical theatres and theatre artists, the application of theory to the field, and the birth of performance studies) while they simultaneously follow Marvin Carlson's development as a scholar, teacher, and mentor.

"Not only a celebration of Marvin Carlson, but a textbook on the history of theatre studies that suggests how to develop and transform paradigms so that they can be applied productively in the future. One of the enormous strengths of theatre studies is that it is able to work with multiple theories and methods. This book convincingly demonstrates that it depends on the problem at hand, whether to take recourse in performance history, semiotics, performance studies, or other paradigms. It will be an indispensible book in classes on the history of our discipline and quite generally on problems of theatre historiography."
—Erika Fischer-Lichte, the Free University of Berlin

"When Marvin Carlson began his career, there was virtually no field or sense of a community of scholars of theatre studies. This book critically reexamines the methodologies that Carlson has initiated and contributed to as a researcher and scholar, constantly moving forward, challenging his own previous presuppositions, and never afraid of 'changing the subject.'"
—Freddie Rokem, Tel Aviv University

Front jacket photo: Marvin Carlson at amphitheatre in Epidaurus, Greece, 1999. Photo by Pat Carlson.

Joseph Roach is Sterling Professor of Theater and English at Yale University. His most recent book is It, a study of charismatic celebrity. His other books include Cities of the Dead: Circum-Atlantic Performance, winner of the James Russell Lowell Prize and the Calloway Prize; and The Player's Passion: Studies in the Science of Acting, winner of the Barnard Hewitt Award.

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Copyright © 2009, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 368pp.
  • 37 B&W photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2009
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11707-9

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  • $89.95 U.S.