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Title: Tony Kushner : legacy and reading
Author: Douglas, Carla Bryony
ISNI:       0000 0004 7225 3664
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis shows that questions of ‘legacy’ occupy a pivotal position in the work of US playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner. It is the first study to consider this in detail. Using a methodology of close reading, I show that Kushner’s handling of legacy in his plays and screenplays has five distinctive facets. He uses queer, affective reading to establish reparative alternatives to oppressive legacies. He presents legacy as both reliant on and constituted by dispossession. He shows it to be characterised by both endurance and loss. He indicates that in the US it is bound to the law and the institution of slavery. Finally, he scrutinizes the collaborative nets and dyads that reveal its connective force. Through chapters that demonstrate each of these aspects to Kushner’s treatment of legacy, I show that his oeuvre raises essential questions about the subject: How are legacies transmitted? How can they be interpreted through theatre and film? And can legacy be read? ‘Legacy’ remains underdeveloped as a critical term. Though frequently employed in literary, theatrical, and political texts, it has received little attention outside of the work of Jacques Derrida. Yet, though largely silent on legacy, poststructuralist and queer theory traditions offer tools for reading that develop my approach to Kushner’s work. I draw from Derrida on legacy, but also Alain Badiou on theatre, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick on affective reading and performativity, and Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou on dispossession. Kushner, I argue, reads legacy with a combination of hope and fierce scepticism. Pressing audience and readers alike to actively engage with his theatre and screenwriting, he shows legacy to be readable, reliant on human interconnectedness, and characterized by intricate internal tensions between substance and negativity, endurance and disposability, loss and perseverance.
Supervisor: Flannery, Denis J. M. Sponsor: Leeds International Research Scholarship ; Oppenheimer Memorial Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available