Performing Arts

Long before Rabelaisian tales of gargantuan gluttony regaled early modern audiences, and centuries before pie-in-the-face gags enlivened vaudeville slapstick, medieval French poets employed food as a powerful device of humor and criticism.Food and laughter, essential elements in human existence, can be used to question the meaning of cultural conventions concerning the body and sexuality, religion, class hierarchies, and gender relations. This book unites the cultural and literary study of representations of food and consumption with theoretical approaches to comedy, humor, and parody in late twelfth- through early-fourteenth-century French fictional verse narratives of epic chanson de geste, theater, Arthurian verse romance, fabliau, and the beast epic of the Roman de Renart. From socially inept epic heroes to hungry knights-errant and mischievous fabliau housewives, out of the ordinary food usage embodies humor. Some knights prefer fighting with roast chicken or bread loaves rather than their swords. Specific foods such as sausages, lard, pears, nuts, or chickens provoked laughter by their mere presence in a scene. Culinary comedy serves as both social satire and literary parody, playing with institutional social conduct and alimentary codes. Its power lies in its ability to disrupt and to reinforce the same conventions it ridicules.
Author of more than thirteen books and several volumes of poetry, screenwriter, and director, Edith Bruck is one of the leading literary voices in Italy, attracting increasing attention in the English-speaking world not least for her powerful Holocaust testimony, which is often compared with the work of her contemporaries Primo Levi and Giorgio Bassani. Born in Hungary in 1932, she was deported with her family to the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Dachau, Christianstadt, Landsberg, and Bergen-Belsen, where she lost both her parents and a brother. After the war, she traveled widely until 1954 when she settled in Rome. She has lived there ever since. This important new study is motivated by a desire to better understand and situate Bruck’s art as well as to advance (and, when necessary, to revise) the critical discourse on her considerable and eclectic body of work. As such, it underscores and analyzes the intermedial nature of her contributions to contemporary Italian culture, which should no longer be understood merely in terms of her willingness to revisit the subject of the Holocaust on the printed page or the silver screen. It also includes previously unpublished interviews with the author. The book will be of broad interest to scholars and students of Jewish (especially Holocaust) studies, Italian literature, film studies, women’s studies, and postcolonial culture.“This is the first comprehensive scholarly analysis of the work produced by a main contemporary author of Italian Holocaust literature, focused on Bruck’s overall artistic production (novels, poetry, film, and TV productions). It will offer scholars and students alike a new interpretive perspective and a valuable source of reference for their studies.” Gabriella Romani, Seton Hall University.
This volume presents a historical-textual study about transformations of the aesthetics of the sublime—the literary and aesthetic quality of greatness under duress—from early English Romanticism to the New Poetry Movement in twentieth-century China. Zheng sets up the former and the latter as distinct but historically analogous moments and argues that both the European Romantic reinvention of the sublime and its later Chinese transformation represent cultural movements built on the excessive and capacious nature of the sublime to counter their shared sense of historical crisis.   The author further postulates through a critical analysis of Edmund Burke’s Inquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, William Wordsworth’s Prelude, and Guo Moruo’s experimental poem “Fenghuang Niepan” (“Nirvana of the Phoenix”) and verse drama Qu Yuan that these aesthetic practices of modernity suggest a deliberate historical hyperbolization of literary agency.   Such an agency is in turn constructed imaginatively and affectively as a means to redress different cultures’ traumatic encounter with modernity. The volume will be of interest to scholars including graduate students of Romanticism, philosophy, history, English literature, Chinese literature, comparative literature, and (comparative) cultural studies.  
The outsized influence of Jews in American entertainment from the early days of Hollywood to the present has proved an endlessly fascinating and controversial topic, for Jews and non-Jews alike. From Shtetl to Stardom: Jews and Hollywood takes an exciting and innovative approach to this rich and complex material. Exploring the subject from a scholarly perspective as well as up close and personal, the book combines historical and theoretical analysis by leading academics in the field with inside information from prominent entertainment professionals. Essays range from Vincent Brook’s survey of the stubbornly persistent canard of Jewish industry “control” to Lawrence Baron and Joel Rosenberg’s panel presentations on the recent brouhaha over Ben Urwand’s book alleging collaboration between Hollywood and Hitler. Case studies by Howard Rodman and Joshua Louis Moss examine a key Coen brothers film, A Serious Man (Rodman), and Jill Soloway’s groundbreaking television series, Transparent (Moss). Jeffrey Shandler and Shaina Hamermann train their respective lenses on popular satirical comedians of yesteryear (Allan Sherman) and those currently all the rage (Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, and Sarah Silverman). David Isaacs relates his years of agony and hilarity in the television comedy writers’ room, and interviews include in-depth discussions by Ross Melnick with Laemmle Theatres owner Greg Laemmle (relative of Universal Studios founder Carl Laemmle) and by Michael Renov with Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. In all, From Shtetl to Stardom offers a uniquely multifaceted, multimediated, and up-to-the-minute account of the remarkable role Jews have played over the centuries and ongoing in American popular culture.    
Historically a source of emigrants to Northern Europe and the New World, Italy has rapidly become a preferred destination for immigrants from the global South. Life in the land of la dolce vita has not seemed so sweet recently, as Italy struggles with the cultural challenges caused by this surge in immigration. Marvelous Bodies by Vetri Nathan explores thirteen key full-length Italian films released between 1990 and 2010 that treat this remarkable moment of cultural role reversal through a plurality of styles. In it, Nathan argues that Italy sees itself as the quintessential internal Other of Western Europe, and that this subalternity directly influences its cinematic response to immigrants, Europe’s external Others. In framing his case to understand Italy’s cinematic response to immigrants, Nathan first explores some basic questions: Who exactly is the Other in Italy? Does Italy’s own past partial alterity affect its present response to its newest subalterns? Drawing on Homi Bhabha’s writings and Italian cinematic history, Nathan then posits the existence of marvelous bodies that are momentarily neither completely Italian nor completely immigrant. This ambivalence of forms extends to the films themselves, which tend to be generic hybrids. The persistent curious presence of marvelous bodies and a pervasive generic hybridity enact Italy’s own chronic ambivalence that results from its presence at the cultural crossroads of the Mediterranean.
Memory and Myth is an interdisciplinary study of the Civil War and its enduring impact on American writers and filmmakers. Its twenty-five chapters are all concerned, in one way or another, with creative responses to the Civil War, and the ways in which artists have sought to make sense of the war and to convey their findings to succeeding generations of readers and filmgoers. The book also examines the role of movies and television in transmuting the historical memories of the Civil War into durable, ever-changing myths.
In recent years, Italian cinema has experienced a quiet revolution: the proliferation of films by women. But their thought-provoking work has not yet received the attention it deserves. Reframing Italy fills this gap. The book introduces readers to films and documentaries by recognized women directors such as Cristina Comencini, Wilma Labate, Alina Marazzi, Antonietta De Lillo, Marina Spada, and Francesca Comencini, as well as to filmmakers whose work has so far been undeservedly ignored.   Through a thematically based analysis supported by case studies, Luciano and Scarparo argue that Italian women filmmakers, while not overtly feminist, are producing work that increasingly foregrounds female subjectivity from a variety of social, political, and cultural positions. This book, with its accompanying video interviews, explores the filmmakers’ challenging relationship with a highly patriarchal cinema industry. The incisive readings of individual films demonstrate how women’s rich cinematic production reframes the aesthetic of their cinematic fathers, re-positions relationships between mothers and daughters, functions as a space for remembering women’s (hi)stories, and highlights pressing social issues such as immigration and workplace discrimination.   This original and timely study makes an invaluable contribution to film studies and to the study of gender and culture in the early twenty-first century.    
In May 1938, Hungary passed anti-Semitic laws causing hundreds of Jewish artists to lose their jobs. In response, Budapest’s Jewish community leaders organized an Artistic Enterprise under the aegis of OMIKE Országos Magyar Izraelita Közművelődési Egyesület (Hungarian Jewish Education Association) to provide employment and livelihood for actors, singers, musicians, conductors, composers, writers, playwrights, painters, graphic artists, and sculptors.   Between 1939 and 1944, activities were centered in Goldmark Hall beside the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest. Hundreds of artists from all over Hungary took part in about one thousand performances, including plays, concerts, cabaret, ballet, operas, and operettas. These performances appealed to the highly cultured Budapest Jewish community, ever desirous of high-caliber events, particularly under oppressive conditions of the time. Art exhibitions also were held for painters, graphic artists, and sculptors to sell their creations.   Lévai’s 1943 book (with new, additional chapters by noted historians and musicians) is the core of this expanded edition and provides interviews with individual artists who recall their early lives and circumstances that led them to join the Artistic Enterprise. The book records the technical functioning, structure, and operation of this remarkable theater and concert venue. It provides fascinating details about those who worked behind the scenes: répétiteurs, hair stylists, and personnel involved with costumes, lighting, and scenery. Because the stage was small, clever choreographic and scenery improvisation had to be made, and the stagehands were clearly up to the task. Since these artists were not allowed to perform before the general public or advertise with posters on the streets, the book describes special means devised to overcome these difficulties and bring Jewish audiences into the theater in large numbers.   Lastly, the book carries the theater’s story up to Sunday morning, March 19, 1944, a day of infamy, when the German army marched into Hungary.  
Berlin, Budapest, Prague, and Warsaw are cities indelibly marked by more than forty years of Soviet influence. Urban Cultures in (Post) Colonial Central Europe explores the ways in which these major urban centers have redefined their identities in the last two decades. The author suggests that they are both Central European and (post) colonial spaces and that the locations of their (post)coloniality can be found predominantly in communicative and media processes and their results in architecture, film, literature, and new media.   Agata Anna Lisiak analyzes Berlin, Budapest, Prague, and Warsaw as (post)colonial cities because their politics, cultures, societies, and economies have been shaped by two centers of power: the Soviet Union as the former colonizer, whose influence remains visible predominantly in architecture, infrastructure, social relations, and mentalities, and the Western culture and the Western and/or global capital as the current colonizer, whose impact extends over virtually all spheres of urban life. The cities discussed are not exclusively postcolonial or solely colonial: they are “in-between” the two predicaments and, hence, are best described as (post)colonial. The (post)colonial and “in-between peripheral” identities and locations of the Central European capitals complement each other, and their analysis provides a relevant perspective on the transformation processes that have been shaping the region after 1989.  
Originally published in 1872, this work is based on the author's experiences in the town of Oberammergau, Germany, the site of the world famous Passion Play. Greatorex, a famous illustrator of the period, recounts her three-month stay during which time she illustrated twenty of the town's famous homes, which are an essential part of the work. Mork, a distinguished Passion Play scholar, not only places the book into an historical context, but describes the play as it was performed during that time
This book constitutes a first look at the little-known phenomenon of the Italian/American short film. What becomes apparent is the conspicuous interest these members of the newer generation of Italian/American filmmakers exhibit vis-a-vis their ethnicity, be such films a fiction, a documentary, or a music video. Equally significant is the lens through which they see their Italian/American heritage. While the older generations concentrated more on the by now well-known thematics of immigration and organized crime, as well as the debunking thereof, these younger artists/performers of short films have added to the general theme of heritage, at various degrees, that of race, gender, and sexuality. Anthony Julian Tamburri is a professor of Italian at Florida Atlantic University, where he is also chair of the Department of Languages and Linguistics. He is the author of seven other books, including A Semiotic of Ethnicity: In (Re)cognition of the Italian/American Writer and To Hyphenate or Not to Hypenate: The Italian/American Writer: Or, An Other American? and is editor or co-editor of twelve collections, including the best-selling anthology From the Margin (1991/2000) and Screening Ethnicity (2002). He is a co-founding editor of Voices in Italian Americana: A Literary and Cultural Review.
This book constitutes a first look at the little-known phenomenon of the Italian/American short film. What becomes apparent is the conspicuous interest these members of the newer generation of Italian/American filmmakers exhibit vis-a-vis their ethnicity, be such films a fiction, a documentary, or a music video. Equally significant is the lens through which they see their Italian/American heritage. While the older generations concentrated more on the by now well-known thematics of immigration and organized crime, as well as the debunking thereof, these younger artists/performers of short films have added to the general theme of heritage, at various degrees, that of race, gender, and sexuality.
There is no question that the Passion is the most controversial Jesus-if not religious-movieever made. The articles...are an attempt by academics to explain why. Five essays were presentedin an earlier version at the Jewish Studies Symposium on key issues raised by The Passion of the Christ held at Purdue University on March 30, 2004 (Garber, Mork, Pawlikowski, Robertson, Young); and 15 essays (Bartchy, Edelheit, Edelman, Feldman, Golan, Greenberg, Haas, Holdredge, Jacobs, Libowitz, Moore, Neusner, Wheeler, Zuckerman) complement the Purdue Symposium. The contributors reflect on a plethora of issues, and they show that concerned andinformed Jews and Christians together can assess dis/misinformation, monitor dissent, alleviate community fears, and reassure that the solid rock of Jewish-Catholic-Protestant dialogue, though assailed, has not become chipped. The passion over the "Passion" has proven to be a blessing, not a curse. Indeed, seize the teaching moment and develop the agenda. The respect of two ancient faith-communities demands and deserves this.