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Deconstructing "The Abyss of the Future:" Theatre, Performance, and Holes in the Discourse of 9/11

Meier, Inga (2015) Deconstructing "The Abyss of the Future:" Theatre, Performance, and Holes in the Discourse of 9/11. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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My dissertation examines the manner in which 9/11 has been formulated as a historical sequence of events in the United States through performance, theatre, architecture, film and photography. It has been repeatedly stated that the events of 9/11 have so completely permeated our collective consciousness as to render their narrative re-presentation, at best, ineffective, and, at worst, superfluous. Not only were the attacks pre-imagined in countless disaster films, but they were also deliberately orchestrated to maximize not so much the loss of human life, but, as Jean Baudrillard has argued, their symbolic effect. My dissertation argues the opposite, namely that the events themselves have been, from the beginning, relegated to the realm of the symbolic and that what we refer to as “9/11” is itself a narrative construction.
Furthermore, I contend that in representing 9/11, a series of liminal space(s) opened up, at the intersection between the symbolic and the real exposing radical possibilities for the configuration of identity, nation and history. My project is to pry open these liminal spaces, to examine how 9/11 plays, film adaptations, select documentaries, and performances (construed broadly) engage the narrative of 9/11 outside of its conceptual framework. I ask: how might these works be understood as productive “holes in the discourse” (to draw on Julia Kristeva’s formulation of the True-Real) of 9/11? How do these works interrogate and challenge the terms and binaries which define positionality in the wake of 9/11 and how do they redistribute cultural capital?


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairJackson-Schebetta, Lisalisajsch@pitt.eduLISAJSCH
Committee MemberFavorini, Attiliobucfav@pitt.eduBUCFAV
Committee MemberGeorge, Kathleengeorgeke@pitt.eduGEORGEKE
Committee MemberFischer, Lucylfischer@pitt.eduLFISCHER
Date: 13 January 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 4 November 2014
Approval Date: 13 January 2015
Submission Date: 15 December 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 278
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Theater Arts
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Theatre, Film Studies, American History
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2015 20:34
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:26


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