Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Affect for effect: emotion and prosocial change in Brecht's theatre

Knapp, Alex (2018) Affect for effect: emotion and prosocial change in Brecht's theatre. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Download (378kB) | Preview


In this thesis, I meld theories of emotional expressiveness with concepts of Brecht’s dialectical theatre to examine the potentiality of fomenting prosocial change in spectators. I ask how Brecht’s theatre can become a more efficacious prosocial tool in cultures and communities. On Brecht’s stage, theatrical elements coalesce and collide with an emphasis on the social conditions of contradiction. This dissonance is embodied for both actor and spectator to actively critique during performance and promote synthesizing social transformation. For instance, Brecht’s concepts of Gestus and Haltung manifest both as the representation of role in society and the social contradiction of external human relations. Within Gestus and Haltung, emotion and affect via the face and body can be analyzed as a shaping force of social behavior that requires scrutiny from the actors on stage and the spectators being affected by these motivating expressions. I root this project in Brecht’s 1938 anti-fascist play, Fear and Misery of the Third Reich. The 25 playlets of Fear and Misery offer a cross-section investigation of daily German life under Nazi power and display how the violence and fear of fascism produces a miserable society. Psychophysiological constructions of fear are ubiquitous in Fear and Misery. Previous research posits more accurate recognition and interpretation of fear portrayals predicts prosocial behavior in others. In Brecht’s dialectical theatre, emotion and affect, along with other theatrical devices, must be considered and commented on by spectators to create a dialogue. Perhaps, most importantly, this performative discourse must realize that social conditions can and must change. Thus, I argue that the combination of expressions of fear and the anti-fascist material of Fear and Misery may tune a spectator to a motivated prosociality against fascism in self and society.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Knapp, Alexajk115@pitt.eduajk115
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairJackson-Schebetta, Lisalisajsch@pitt.edulisajsch
Committee CoChairThiel, Sarasarabtthiel@pitt.edusarabtthiel
Committee MemberCroot, Cynthiaccroot@pitt.educcroot
Committee MemberBlair,
Date: 23 April 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 30 March 2018
Approval Date: 23 April 2018
Submission Date: 17 April 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 72
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Theater Arts
David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Brecht, emotion, affect, facial expression, fear, prosocial
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2018 20:03
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2018 20:03


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item