TitleThe decline of political theatre in 20th century Europe
NameMorgan, Margot Bonel (author), Bronner, Stephen Eric (chair), Bathory, Dennis (internal member), Murphy, Andrew (internal member), Ehrenberg, John (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Theater--Political aspects--Europe--20th century,
Political science--Europe--20th century,
Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950--Criticism and interpretation,
Brecht, Bertolt, 1898-1956--Criticism and interpretation,
Sartre, Jean-Paul, 1905-1980--Criticism and interpretation,
Ionesco, Eugène--Criticism and interpretation
DescriptionMany political theorists, from Hannah Arendt and Theodor Adorno to Sheldon Wolin and Jurgen Habermas, have noted that the twentieth century was a time of an “eclipse of the public sphere” and a “sublimation of politics.” Partly due to the traumas of world war, totalitarianism, and genocide, and partly due to the absorptive capacities of instrumental reason and mass consumerism, mid-twentieth century Europe experienced an exhaustion of radical energy and a hollowing out of political discourse. This dissertation contributes to the narration of these developments by offering an account of the decline of political theater in twentieth century Europe. While since the ancient Greeks theater had been an important medium of political reflection and communication—and thus an important genre of political theorizing—by the middle of the 20th century theater became, especially in Western Europe and the United States, a medium of mass entertainment deprived of political aspiration and bite. This dissertation tells the story of this decline of political theater through profiles of four of the most important, brilliant, and influential playwrights of the century—George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Eugene Ionesco. The first three playwrights sought to dramatize the challenges of their times in ways that could promote radical political change. Each, in his own way, failed in this effort. The fourth, Ionesco, also experienced the traumas of the century, but responded by developing a new, “absurdist” theater that was deeply anti-political. By profiling these important writers, and by linking them in a narrative of political theater’s decline in the 20th century, this dissertation has two primary goals: to contribute to the remembrance of a “world we have lost,” and through such remembrance to incite contemporary political theorists to revisit and rethink the political potential of the theater.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Margot Bonel Morgan
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.