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Title: Comedy of the impossible : the power of play in post-War European drama
Author: Street, Anna
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 8734
Awarding Body: University of Kent and Université de Paris Sorbonne
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2016
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By tracing the development of theories of comedy within Western philosophy, this thesis claims that anti-comic prejudices prevented comedy from being recognized as a serious genre. Comedy's inferior status for over two thousand years is shown to correspond to an ethical model that distinguishes the real from the Ideal and affirms a Neo-Platonic vision of existence. Through numerous examples taken from a particular phenomenon of post-war European theatre comprising five different playwrights, this thesis proposes three primary characteristics of comedy: the ontological instability of comic characters, comedy's paradoxical relation to the world of appearances, and comedy's willingness to accommodate the impossible. By throwing binaries into question and promoting a complete reversal of dominant value systems, comedy blurs the lines of distinction between the abstract and the concrete, the mechanical and the organic and, ultimately, between life and death. Demonstrating how this reversal is accomplished linguistically, metaphorically, or dramaturgically, this study concludes that comedy subverts the socio-symbolic order that relies upon the logic of possibility.
Supervisor: Weller, Shane ; Angel-Perez, Elisabeth Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral