The Theatricality of History Making and the Paradoxes of Acting

Essay Excerpt

History making - transformations of lived experience into narratives - is a universal and everyday human phenomenon. It has an anthropology, as it has a criticism and a history. This narrating in history making is itself lived experience, not something apart from lived experience. In all its varied expressions, narrating is, in Roy Wagner's word, an impersonation - the clustering of signifying actions into recognizable roles, such as bard, novelist, prophet, historian (1972:9). This narrating is itself lived experience: in Aristotle's word, mythopoetic - the emplotment that engages an audience in its interpretation (in Halliwell 1986:23-25). This narrating is itself lived experience: in John Dewey's word, "an" experience - pulled out of the stream of consciousness and given dramatic form (in Turner 1986:33). This narrating is itself lived experience: in Greg Dening's word, metonymic of the present, metaphoric of the past; it presents the past with the double meaning of the word "presents" - makes a now of the past, delivers the past in some dramatic display (1988:1, 1991a:349) (73-74).

Dening, Greg. "The Theatricality of History Making and the Paradoxes of Acting." Cultural Anthropology 8.1(1993): 73–95.

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