51 Chapters
Medium 9780253015976

9 Thresholds of New African Dramaturgies in France Today

Edited by Frieda Ekotto and Kenneth W H Indiana University Press ePub

Mária Minich Brewer

Not all voices can be heard at the same time in the same story/history.

Kossi Efoui, Solo d’un revenant

THIS COLLECTION OF essays, Rethinking African Cultural Productions, offers an occasion to question theater’s physical and symbolic borders, frontiers, separations, and border crossings. Working as it does across multiple thresholds and dimensions simultaneously, whether of time, space, language, or the body, the art of the theater engages its public in critical considerations of and across borders. A new generation of African diasporic playwrights of the 1990s have thoroughly reinvented the social and symbolic possibilities for new theatrical languages. In this essay, I propose to map out some of the theatrical thresholds implicit in such a project of reinventing a new theatricality. This critical work on thresholds, I argue, needs to focus explicitly on the symbolic, social, and material dimensions of writing for performance.

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Medium 9780253007278

11 Culture and the Cold War

Gerald Sorin Indiana University Press ePub

That the VFW wanted to pack Fast off to the Soviet Union was symptomatic of the anti-Communist mood of some Americans in the postwar period; but whether the Cold War between the United States and the USSR and the anti-Communist and conformist attitudes it helped reinforce were the main ingredients of the American cultural stew of the 1950s is an open question. Fast, however, was convinced that the repressive anti-Communism of the McCarthy period had a powerful chilling effect that kept novelists in line and “kill[ed] social writing in America.”1

Certainly McCarthyism continued at important levels throughout the decade. The Smith Act cases in which Fast was directly involved as a journalist and an unofficial advisor to the defense were ongoing; and the Communist Control Act of 1954, incorporating President Eisenhower’s call for outlawing the Communist Party altogether, was signed in August, instilling worry in many, including Fast, who feared being imprisoned a second time.

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Medium 9780253356437

One Popular Culture and the Politics of Memory

Alvin H. Rosenfeld Indiana University Press ePub

Most people willingly deceive themselves with a doubly false faith: they believe in eternal memory (of men, things, deeds, peoples) and in rectification (of deeds, errors, sins, injustice). Both are sham. The truth lies at the opposite end of the scale: everything will be forgotten and nothing will be rectified. All rectification (both vengeance and forgiveness) will be taken over by oblivion. No one will rectify wrongs; all wrongs will be forgotten.


We say “Holocaust” as if there were an established consensus on the full range of historical meanings and associations that this term is meant to designate. In fact, no such consensus exists. The image of the Holocaust is a changing one, and just how it is changing, who is changing it, and what the consequences of such change may be are matters that need to be carefully and continually pondered. Such reflection will be undertaken here on the basis of the following assumptions:


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Medium 9780253203175

Fantasy and Revolution: Alexander Bogdanov and the Origins of Bolshevik Science Fiction

Alexander Bogdanov Indiana University Press ePub

Richard Stites

“Blood is being shed [down there] for the sake of a better future,” says the Martian to the hero of Red Star as they are ascending to Mars. “But in order to wage the struggle we must know that future.” The blood he speaks of was the blood of workers shot down in the streets of St. Petersburg, of revolutionaries put against the wall of prison courtyards, of insurgent sailors and soldiers, of Jewish victims of pogroms in the Russian Revolution of 1905. And by “that better future” he means not the immediate outcome of the revolution but the radiant future of socialism that will dawn on earth after revolution has triumphed everywhere. In order to inspect the coming socialist order, the hero—a Bolshevik activist named Leonid—has accepted the invitation of a Martian visitor to fly with him and his crew to Mars.

In this manner Alexander Bogdanov, a major prophet of the Bolshevik movement and one of its most versatile writers and thinkers, begins his Utopian science fiction novel Red Star, first published in 1908. The red star is Mars; but it is also the dream set to paper of the kind of society that could emerge on Earth after the dual victory of the scientific-technical revolution and the social revolution. Bogdanov, a professional revolutionary, was one of those people, peculiar to revolutionary societies of our century, who moved easily back and forth between the barricade and the study table, the prison cell and the laboratory. He was a physician and a man of science; and he was the first in Russian fiction to combine a technical utopia, grounded in the latest scientific theories of the time, with the ideas of revolutionary Marxism. This was the central theme of both Red Star and his other novel, Engineer Menni.

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Medium 9780253019622

12. From Custom Book to Folk Culture: Minhag and the Roots of Jewish Ethnography / Nathaniel Deutsch

Edited by Andreas Kilcher and Gabriella Indiana University Press ePub

Minhag and the Roots of Jewish Ethnography


In 1891, Rabbi Abraham Sperling (1851–1921) of Lemberg—now Lviv in Ukraine and then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire—published his Hebrew language magnum opus, Sefer Ta’amei ha-Minhagim u-Mekorei ha-Dinim (Book of Reasons for Customs and Sources for Laws).1 The book rapidly became the rabbinic equivalent of a bestseller. During Sperling’s lifetime alone, at least six editions of the book were published, including a Yiddish translation in 1909; after his death, numerous official and bootleg versions were also published in various parts of Eastern Europe as well as in Germany, Hungary, the United States, and, most recently, Israel, likely making it the most widely produced book on Jewish custom in the modern period. Sperling’s decision to write the book and its subsequent popularity reflected historical and ideological developments within Ultra-Orthodox or Haredi Judaism, writ large. Indeed, as we will see, Sefer Ta’amei ha-Minhagim is notable for its catholic approach to Jewish customs, including material drawn from the responsa of leading rabbis such as Moses Sofer (also known as the Ḥatam Sofer) of Pressburg, generally considered the ideological father of the Haredi movement, as well as multiple Hasidic sources. Yet, as I will argue in this essay, the book was also connected to more secular currents in turn-of-the-century European Jewish culture, including the kinus (ingathering) phenomenon and the creation of Jewish ethnography and folklore studies, in which minhag (custom) became a central, if theoretically problematic, category.2

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