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Dramatic Action in Greek Tragedy and Noh: Reading with and Beyond Aristotle

Mae J. Smethurst has published a new book, Dramatic Action in Greek Tragedy and Noh: Reading with and beyond Aristotle. This book explores the ramifications of understanding the similarities and differences between the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles and realistic Japanese noh. First, it looks at the relationship of Aristotle’s definition of tragedy to the tragedies he favored. Next, his definition is applied to realistic noh, in order to show how they do and do not conform to his definition. In the third and fourth chapters, the focus moves to those junctures in the dramas that Aristotle considered crucial to a complex plot - recognitions and sudden reversals -, and shows how they are presented in performance. Chapter 3 examines the climactic moments of realistic noh and demonstrates that it is at precisely these moments that a third actor becomes involved in the dialogue or that an actor in various ways steps out of character. Chapter 4 explores how plays by Euripides and Sophocles deal with critical turns in the plot, as Aristotle defined it. It is not by an actor stepping out of character, but by the playwright’s involvement of the third actor in the dialogue. The argument of this book reveals a similar symbiosis between plot and performance in both dramatic forms. By looking at noh through the lens of Aristotle and two Greek tragedies that he favored, the book uncovers first an Aristotelian plot structure in realistic noh and the relationship between the crucial points in the plot and its performance; and on the Greek side, looking at the tragedies through the lens of noh suggests a hitherto unnoticed relationship between the structure of the tragedies and their performance, that is, the involvement of the third actor at the climactic moments of the plot. This observation helps to account for Aristotle’s view that tragedy be limited to three actors. The book is published through Lexington Books (February 2013), and can be purchased here.

Scripted Affects, Branded Selves: Television, Subjectivity, and Capitalism in 1990s Japan

In Scripted Affects, Branded Selves, Gabriella Lukács analyzes the development of a new primetime serial called “trendy drama” as the Japanese television industry’s ingenious response to market fragmentation. Much like the HBO hit Sex and the City, trendy dramas feature well-heeled young sophisticates enjoying consumer-oriented lifestyles while managing their unruly love lives. Integrating a political-economic analysis of television production with reception research, Lukács suggests that the trendy drama marked a shift in the Japanese television industry from offering story-driven entertainment to producing lifestyle-oriented programming. She interprets the new televisual preoccupation with consumer trends not as a sign of the medium’s downfall, but as a savvy strategy to appeal to viewers who increasingly demand entertainment that feels more personal than mass-produced fare. After all, what the producers of trendy dramas realized in the late 1980s was that taste and lifestyle were sources of identification that could be manipulated to satisfy mass and niche demands more easily than could conventional marketing criteria such as generation or gender. Lukács argues that by capitalizing on the semantic fluidity of the notion of lifestyle, commercial television networks were capable of uniting viewers into new affective alliances that, in turn, helped them bury anxieties over changing class relations in the wake of the prolonged economic recession.

Kinship in Action: Self and Group

Kinship has made a comeback in teaching. In addition, kinship studies have moved away from the minutiae of kin terminological systems and the "kinship algebra" often associated with these, to the broader analysis of processes, historical changes, and fundamental cultural meanings in which kin relationships are implicated. Andrew Strathern and Pamela J. Stewart bring together a number of interests and concerns in order to provide pointers for students, as well as scholars, in this field of study. Prentice Hall, 2011. See Pearson Higher Ed to purchase.

Peace-Making and the Imagination: Papua New Guinea Perspectives

In this compelling new book, Andrew Strathern and Pamela J Stewart argue that in communities where violence must be paid for through compensation, violet conflict can be contained. With primary references to the Highlands of Papua New Guinea and comparisons to cases from Africa, Pakistan, and other arenas of tribal social formations, the Authors explor how rituals such as wealth disbursement, oath taking, sacrifice, and formal apologies are often used as a means of averting or transcending acts of revenge after violence. University of Queensland Press, 2011. See www.uqp.com.au to order.

 

 

 

Updated October 22, 2013

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Asian Studies Center
University of Pittsburgh
4400 Posvar Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Phone: (412) 648-7370
Fax: (412) 624-4665
E-mail: asia@pitt.edu
Web: http://www.ucis.pitt.edu/asc