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By Andrew Parker

From the age of Aristotle to the age of AIDS, writers, thinkers, performers and activists have wresteled with what "performance" is all approximately. on the comparable second, "performativity"--a new thought in language theory--has develop into a ubiquitous time period in literary experiences. This quantity grapples with the character of those keywords whose lines are available far and wide: within the theatre, within the streets, in philosophy, in questions of race and gender, and within the sentences we communicate.

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Wall's edited collection of conference presentations, Chan};in,!? Our OWI1 Words: Essays on Criticism, Theor)' and Writing By Black ¡Van/en offers no discussion of drama. , adopts a different stance: two of the seventeen critical readings ofiered in Readil1,{? Black, Readin,!? Feminist address playwrights, and the Norto/! Antholo};}' oI Afriwn Americall Liferafure project that he is directing may inelude five plays al110ng its sclectiollS. '. 11111' 111 , tlll,·lll d l: Ih;lt, for his teal11 WHEN ONE REVIEWS PÓ r" N 1 lA l of anthologizers, an African-American theater worthy of study begins only with Lorraine Hansberry.

Furthermore, given our analytical training in dramatic literature, our written criti­ cism often appears to be uninformed by our theatrical practices. Like many of our colleagues writing dramatic criticism of the Western canon, we have learned to share literary analysts' preoccupation with permanence, choosing for the most part to focus upon meanings lodged in the alleged purity of the written word, "uncompromised" by the­ atrical interpreters or audiences. iterature from the days of DuBois and Locke on through to Baraka, Baker, and Cates has placed con­ siderable emphasis on the folk; indeed, as Kimberly Benston has observed, "evocation of the vernacular as a criterion of Mro-American theoretical discourse has become almost de rige l/r.

And R"ssia (Cambridge, 1971), p. ,rld ill /he Age of Phil1p lI, 2 vols. 31. Judith Milhous, "An Annotated Census of Thornas Bctterton's Roles , 1659-1710," Theatrc No/ebook 29 (1975), Part 1, pp. 33-45; Pan Il, pp. 85-94. (NcwYork,1972-73). 32. Steele, Il, 423-424. 13. Scc PauI ZU111thor, Oral Poetry: A 1'1 [¡¡trodl/e/ioll, transo Kathryu Murphy-Judy 33. bell hooks, Black LAoks: Race ami R epresen/a/ioll (Boston, 19(3), p. 180. 34. Appiah, p. 191. (Minneapolis, J 9':10). 14. 'I/lodcm His/OI)' (New York, 1985).

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