Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture addresses what may be the single most important question facing all kinds of performance today. What is the status of live performance in a culture dominated by mass media? Since its first appearance, Philip Auslander's ground-breaking book has helped to reconfigure a new area of study. Looking at specific instances of live performance such as theatre, rock music, sport, and courtroom testimony, Liveness offers penetrating insights into media culture, suggesting that media technology has encroached on live events to the point where many are hardly live at all. In this new edition, the author thoroughly updates his provocative argument to take into account new digital and media technologies, and cultural, social and legal developments.
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Reviews cussion of how the historical figure Galileo "became the cultural symbol of choice for cooperation with oppressive political institutions" Chapter six, "Informers," is perhaps the most engaging part of the book.
Here, Murphy discusses how many theatrical artists represented the troubling issue of '. Murphy suggests in this chapter that in the hands of such skilled artists ,as Kazan and Miller, the question of guilt and innocence progresses beyond a simple dramatic representation of good versus evil, ala Wayne and Fast, to involve a far more complicated perceptual field, one that implies many levels of guilt and innocence.
In the final chapter, "Forensics;" Murphy considers the ways in which a number of "trial plays" from this period were rooted in the social drama of the hearings. This type of dramatic expression represents, for Murphy, something of an artistic Ground Zero - "an arena in which the Right and Left were brought together, if only to exhibit their differences and battle for ideological influence over the direction that post-war American culture and politics were to take" Clearly, Brenda Murphy has written a landmark study, one that considers an often neglected field in American theatre history.
One only hopes that others will heed Murphy's charge, delivered in the conclusion, that "[tlhere is much more work to be done if we are to understand the political and cultural implications of the plays, films, and teleplays that were written by Americans who lived through this politically and ideologically charged period" Until those studies are completed, Congressional Theatre: Dramatizing McCarthyism on Stage, Film, and Television must be considered an essential text for students of this era, or, for that matter, anyone interested in the impact of politics upon art.
Liveness: Pelformance in a Mediatized Culture. London: Routledge, Reviewed by Dorothy Chansky, The College afWilliam and Mary Philip Auslander's project in Liveness is to consider the status of live performance in a society that is dominated by mass media and in which television is not one discourse among many but "an intrinsic and detennining element of our cultural formation" 2.
He asserlo;;; that liveness "must be examined not as a global, undifferentiated phenomenon but within specific cultural and social contexts" 3 and that, "historically, the live is actually an effect of mediatization , not the other way around" 5r.
Prior to the advent of media technology, the concept of "live" as a category had no meaning, Therefore, "like Iiveness itself, the desire for live experiences is a product of mediatization" Yet, in assessing the status of live performance, it is no longer adequate to retreat into mystifications and c1icMs about the "magic of live theatre" or the "energy" that supposedly exists between performers and audiences 2.
Historically, new media have forced older ones to adjust, and Auslander examines the adjustments made by theatre and popular music to the dominant technologies of the past century: "[TJhe general response of live performance to the oppression and economic superiority ofmediatized forms has been to become as much like them as possible" 7.
Auslander's synoptic concerns go beyond pointing out the frequent inclusion of video clips in theatre productions or the near ubiquity of miking human voices in live productions. He is interested in showing that the alleged ontological differences between the live and the mediatized are specious. In building his argument, he returns often to Walter Benjamin's thoughts on a popular desire for manufactured proximity in the midst of an environment of reproductions.
The mediatized will often satisfy this desire beller than the live. Auslander also argues against Peggy Phelan's assertions about memory - supposedly the only way to "record" live performance - as a privileged site of disappearance, invisibility. The chapter on live performance in theatre with a nod to sporting events traces the advent of Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.
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Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture
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LIVENESS: PERFORMANCE IN A MEDIATIZED CULTURE (1999)
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