Subversion, refusal, and contingency: the transgression of liberal-humanist subjectivity and characterization in Sarah Kane’s Cleansed, Crave, and 4.48 Psychosis

Delgado-Garcia, C. (2012) Subversion, refusal, and contingency: the transgression of liberal-humanist subjectivity and characterization in Sarah Kane’s Cleansed, Crave, and 4.48 Psychosis. Modern Drama, 55(2), pp. 230-250. (doi: 10.3138/md.55.2.230)

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Abstract

Drawing on Judith Butler’s writings on performativity, this article investigates the critique of the liberal-humanist understanding of selfhood offered in Sarah Kane’s last three plays. It argues that Cleansed subversively deploys conventional dramatic character to disfigure the subject as it is understood by liberal humanism. The motif of the wound activates this subversive characterization, with the supposed self-sameness or coherence of selfhood being dismembered on the page. Subjectivity emerges in this playtext as discursively produced, defined by the body, and processual. Conversely, Crave and 4.48 Psychosis reject the terms through which such liberal-humanist subjectivity is represented. Through uncountable and opaque characters, subjectivity is formulated as queer, foreclosing the equation of body morphology with the sense of the self and dismantling fixed and unified notions of identity. Finally, the article interrogates to what extent the staging of the plays inevitably reproduces stable characters and normative subjectivities. Desire and recognition are considered here as key to maintaining the plays’ critique of liberal humanism.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Delgado-Garcia, Dr Cristina
Authors: Delgado-Garcia, C.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Journal Name:Modern Drama
Publisher:University of Toronto Press
ISSN:0026-7694
ISSN (Online):1712-5286
Published Online:15 June 2012

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