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Of Borders and Thresholds

Theatre History, Practice, and Theory

1998

Michal Kobialka, editor

Of Borders and Thresholds

A group of scholars applies border theory to theatre studies.

The theatre is full of borders and boundaries: between the “real” and “illusionary” conditions of the stage, between the way one acts onstage and in “real” life, between stage and audience, performance and reception. Ultimately, the book seeks to answer the question: What can border theory tell us about theatre, a world in which the border is an immanent threshold?

Contributors: Rosemarie K. Bank, Herbert Blau, Mita Choudhury, Spencer Golub, Jorge Huerta, Alice Rayner, Janelle Reinelt, Joseph Roach, and David Román.

This collection demonstrates the ways in which theatre and performance prove, once again, a rich site at which to engage the complexities of critical theory. Traversing theatre history and contemporary performance, these noted theorists illuminate the crossing, blurring, or obstinate maintenance of borders and boundaries through a range of compelling examples. These essays and their arguments resonate across intellectual and political geographies, and offer theatre and performance studies as a permeable, vital cross-disciplinary space.

Jill Dolan, author of Presence and Desire: Essays on Gender, Sexuality, Performance

The theatre is full of borders and boundaries: between the “real” and “illusionary” conditions of the stage, between the way one acts onstage and in “real” life, between stage and audience, performance and reception. As such, theatre offers a unique opportunity to examine the construction, representation, and functioning of borders. This is the task undertaken by the authors of this volume, the first to apply the lexicon and concepts of border theory to theatre history and performance theory. Ultimately, the book seeks to answer the question: What can border theory tell us about theatre, a world in which the border is an immanent threshold?

The contributors, highly regarded theatre historians, theorists, and practitioners, address a wide range of border-related themes, such as the role of performance in the construction and maintenance of national divisions; border-crossing performance genres informed by colonialism and anticolonialism; and ways in which notions of location, border, and performance are being revised by new communication technologies. Their topics include the construction of “America” in the sixteenth century, theatre practices in eighteenth-century England, American Latino playwrights, performances of gender and sexuality, cyborg technologies, and fashion. Throughout, the authors reflect on the ways in which theatre—the practice and the institution-has been defined by the concepts of borders and border crossing. Altogether, their work helps to reveal how the materiality of borders is produced, fragmented, and multiplied in theatre history, practice, and theory-and, conversely, to show what is revealed by the process of producing, fragmenting, and multiplying the borders.

Contributors: Rosemarie K. Bank, Kent State U; Herbert Blau, U of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Mita Choudhury, New York U; Spencer Golub, Brown U; Jorge Huerta, U of California, San Diego; Alice Rayner, Stanford U; Janelle Reinelt, U of California, Davis; Joseph Roach, Yale U; David Román, U of Southern California.

Of Borders and Thresholds

Michal A. Kobialka is an associate professor in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota.

Of Borders and Thresholds

This collection demonstrates the ways in which theatre and performance prove, once again, a rich site at which to engage the complexities of critical theory. Traversing theatre history and contemporary performance, these noted theorists illuminate the crossing, blurring, or obstinate maintenance of borders and boundaries through a range of compelling examples. These essays and their arguments resonate across intellectual and political geographies, and offer theatre and performance studies as a permeable, vital cross-disciplinary space.

Jill Dolan, author of Presence and Desire: Essays on Gender, Sexuality, Performance

Of Borders and Thresholds is an important and timely collection, one that works to understand—and to challenge—the various intellectual, disciplinary, and political borders tracing the field of drama, theater, and performance studies.

W. B. Worthen, University of California, Davis

Of Borders and Thresholds presents a powerful cross section of some of theater studies’ most influential minds. The essays are diverse in focus yet coherent on the level of sustained intellectual rigor

José Muñoz, New York University

Of Borders and Thresholds is an unusually audacious and ambitious foray into this terrain in that it stands directly at the crossroads of these two trends: a cross-disciplinary collection whose subject is, in effect, cross-disciplinarity itself. [It] represents brave and outstanding scholarship. [A] vitalizing challenge to the way theatre studies is conducted.

Theatre Journal