Catalogue


Acting naturally : Mark Twain in the culture of performance /
Randall Knoper.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1995.
description
ix, 240 p.
ISBN
0520086198 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1995.
isbn
0520086198 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
964314
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Clarifies why understanding Mark Twain's writing is essential to understanding enduring patterns and problems in American culture. Conversely, it compellingly illustrates why one does not fully understand Mark Twain's work unless one has some understanding of America's preoccupation with performance, conspicuous display, and the mental sciences."--Howard Horwitz, author ofBy the Law of Nature: Form and Value in Nineteenth-Century America "In place of the strictly literary frame of reference that has previously organized the Twain canon, Knoper productively focuses on the spectrum of theatrical attitudes whereby Twain reconfigured his culture's race and gender hierarchies into the power to construct social realities differently. This work is sure to play a significant role in the reinvention of Mark Twain for the New American Studies."--Donald E. Pease, editor ofRevisionary Interventions into the Americanist Canon "Knoper takes up quintessential aspects of Twain's writings, mind, and career. . . . [He] is brilliant in enunciating clearly and coherently ideas and attitudes that Twain either held confusedly or intimated almost unintentionally."--Louis J. Budd, author ofOur Mark Twain
Flap Copy
"Clarifies why understanding Mark Twain's writing is essential to understanding enduring patterns and problems in American culture. Conversely, it compellingly illustrates why one does not fully understand Mark Twain's work unless one has some understanding of America's preoccupation with performance, conspicuous display, and the mental sciences."--Howard Horwitz, author of By the Law of Nature: Form and Value in Nineteenth-Century America "In place of the strictly literary frame of reference that has previously organized the Twain canon, Knoper productively focuses on the spectrum of theatrical attitudes whereby Twain reconfigured his culture's race and gender hierarchies into the power to construct social realities differently. This work is sure to play a significant role in the reinvention of Mark Twain for the New American Studies."--Donald E. Pease, editor of Revisionary Interventions into the Americanist Canon "Knoper takes up quintessential aspects of Twain's writings, mind, and career. . . . [He] is brilliant in enunciating clearly and coherently ideas and attitudes that Twain either held confusedly or intimated almost unintentionally."--Louis J. Budd, author of Our Mark Twain
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1995-06:
Knoper's study of Mark Twain in the context of the culture of performance is a compelling demonstration of cultural studies at its best. Like many popular (that is, "lowbrow") American writers, Twain has been canonized and appropriated as the exclusive property of those of "cultivated" taste and judgment (that is, "highbrow"). Knoper (Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst) moves Twain firmly and fully back into the popular culture of the 19th century in which he flourished and pays particular attention to theatrical performance (especially such entertainers as monologuists, minstrels, mesmerists, mediums, Shakespearean actors, and public hoaxers) and its influence on Twain's writing. The results of the author's keen and sensitive analyses are revealing, specifically in terms of gender, racial, cultural, social, and economic issues of the day. Though the reading may be difficult for the undergraduate, graduate students and specialists in Mark Twain studies will find the book essential. M. T. Inge; Randolph-Macon College
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, June 1995
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Summaries
Long Description
The phenomenon of performance is central to Mark Twain's writing and persona. But Twain's performative aspects have usually been dismissed as theatrical and discounted as lowbrow burlesque. Randall Knoper takes Twain's theatricality seriously and shows how Twain's work both echoes and engages the social and cultural problems embodied in nineteenth-century popular entertainments. Knoper draws on theater history, theories of acting and bodily expression, psychology and physiology, scientific accounts of spiritualism, and commercial spectacles to demonstrate Twain's use of "acting" and the "natural" in his creative explorations. This book enlarges our understanding of Mark Twain--the artist and the man--and also provides a window into a culture whose entertainments registered the sexual, racial, economic, and scientific forces that were transforming it.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments
Introductionp. 1
Acting Like a Manp. 23
"Funny Personations": Theater and the Popularity of the Deadpan Stylep. 55
"Absorb the Character": Acting and "Authenticity"p. 74
The Expressive Body, Gesture, and Writingp. 96
Mediumship, "Mental Telegraphy," and Masculinityp. 119
"It's Got to Be Theatrical": Spectacles of Power and Productsp. 141
Melodrama, Transvestism, Phantasm: (Un)fixing the Theatrical Signp. 170
Notesp. 193
Indexp. 233
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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