Dramatic anguish : aesthetic and ethical tensions in theatre of the Holocaust / by Gretchen Sims Sween.
In an effort to grapple with the monumental cultural rupture produced by the Holocaust, as with other events that strain the boundaries of human understanding, numerous artists have appropriated the Holocaust as subject matter, with greater and lesser degrees of success. In Part I of this dissertation, I delineate the inadequacy of the dominant value-neutral, relativistic critical methodologies for exploring the complexities of Holocaust art--specifically here, theatre-- wherein moral issues are inextricably entangled in the creative process; secondly, I seek to situate the notion of artistic "success" within an "empathetic criticism." The latter involves balancing the unique ethical concerns that adhere to treatments of the Holocaust with a respect for the unique demands and capacities of the theatrical medium. Part Two includes close readings of eight Holocaust dramas that range stylistically from conventional naturalism to quasi-ritualistic experimentation. My theoretical method for evaluating the plays is interdisciplinary, exploring relevent issues in Holocaust history and literary criticism, critical theory, modern dramatic theory, contemporary philosophy of science, and over twenty years practical experience working in theatre.
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