This collection of essays explores the development of avant-garde theater and its relation to questions of textuality, authority, and the academy. Although the canon of modern and contemporary drama would be difficult to imagine without the influential legacy of the movements and strands of the historical avant-garde, this critical history is often overlooked in courses on modern and contemporary drama and theater.
Though primarily focusing on issues of textuality and performance, the essays regard the antitextualism of the avant-garde as indicative of the wide variety of anti-cultural sentiments that have characterized avant-garde performance. The volume begins with the anti-textual sentiments of the avant-garde, then offers antitextual models, explores specific performances, and ends with a critical analysis of the avant-garde. Uniting the array of opinions articulated is a belief that despite the problems that haunt the traditions of avant-garde theater, it can nonetheless offer continued valuable insights into the industries of literature, theater, scholarship, and culture.
James M. Harding is Assistant Professor of English, Mary Washington College. He is author of Adorno and a "Writing of the Ruins."