2014 Student Research Conference:
27th Annual Student Research Conference

Staging the Nightmare of History: "Circe" as Theater of Cruelty
Brendan E. Ezvan
Dr. Bob Mielke, Faculty Mentor

In the hallucinatory "Circe" chapter of Ulysses, James Joyce stages what he called a "dreadful performance," in which the repressed desires of Bloom and Stephen come to the surface of the text. Drawing on this notion of performance and theatricality, I will argue that "Circe" constitutes an Artaudian Theater of Cruelty. My paper uses Antonin Artaud's theories on the theater - in particular, his assertion in The Theater and its Double that "there can be theater only from the moment when the impossible really begins" - to argue that "Circe" functions as a Theater of Cruelty specifically through its staging of the fantastic. Joyce and Artaud's conceptions of the theater ultimately situate them in a modernist era in which anxieties over the representation of the self and the fragmentation of language (and, for Joyce, over Ireland's colonial position) found their expression in a theater of the fantastic and the subconscious.

Keywords: James Joyce, Ulysses, Antonin Artaud, Theater of Cruelty, Celtic Revival, Yeats, Postcolonialism, Performance


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 407-2
Location: VH 1232
Time: 2:45

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