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Title:Constellations of suffering: historical trauma in the theatrical adaptation of Greek tragedy
Author(s):Ross, Zackary
Director of Research:Hohman, Valleri J.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hohman, Valleri J.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Lee, Esther K.; Capino, Jose B.; Forsyth, Alison
Department / Program:Theatre
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Historical Trauma
Dramatic Literature
Abstract:Grounded in the historiography of the field of trauma studies and a theoretical understanding of the role of adaptation within contemporary culture, this dissertation examines how the process of adapting the familiar narratives of ancient Greek tragedy creates opportunities for modern playwrights seeking to represent the horrific realities of historical, community-based traumas that are typically understood as unrepresentable within our culture. An in-depth analysis of three late twentieth and early twenty-first century adaptations of ancient Greek tragedy—Rita Dove’s The Darker Face of the Earth (1996), Yael Farber’s Molora (2008), and Keith Reddin and Meg Gibson’s Too Much Memory (2009)—reveals how the adapting authors engage with and adapt their source texts’ structural and aesthetic elements and utilize the basic framework of these ancient tales (Oedipus, The Oresteia, and Antigone) to represent three specific instances of historical trauma: the United States’ history of slavery, South Africa’s experience of apartheid, and the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the resulting War on Terror. While each of the three adaptations examined in this study engages with a specific moment of trauma, my analysis of these plays includes a discussion of how its source text has inspired various other adaptations that each respond to their historical moment in unique and significant ways. I argue that authors seeking to adapt these narratives are influenced not only by the “original” source material but also by these various other versions of the text and suggest that these works therefore belong within a large constellation of adaptations, an idea inspired by Adorno’s concept of the constellation image. As new adaptations immerge over time, they expand the scope and significance of the constellation and the narrative on which they are based, thereby creating new dramatic possibilities and relationships between the source text and the time in which it is adapted.
Issue Date:2014-05-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Zackary Ross
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
Date Deposited:2014-05

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