MIMESIS Munich Doctoral Program for Literature and the Arts

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Julia Rössler

Julia Rössler, M.A.

Doctoral Student


Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1, 80539 München

Room: M311

Thesis Title

Mimesis in Contemporary Anglophone Drama.


Contemporary Anglophone drama from the 1990s onwards is frequently placed in the context of a presumed anti-mimetic turn. In this dissertation project, I pursue to offer a different perspective as I argue that mimesis assumes a principle role and function in a wide range of plays by American writers such as Tony Kushner or Suzan-Lori Parks and British playwrights like David Greig and Timberlake Wertenbaker. At the same time, I intend to respond to a dominant tendency in Anglo-American literary criticism and scholarship which regards mimesis as a somewhat outworn convention of dramatic representation proceeding on a rigid and shallow imitative appropriation of human life and the real world. Until today, mimesis’ persistent linkage to formulaic principles of character creation and plausible and recognizable plot composition further supports the prevalent relegation of mimesis to the margins of critical inquiry and debate in the field of Anglophone drama. Due to this premature verdict of mimesis as an uncritical, unproductive and aesthetically shallow form of dramatic expression, this study seeks to understand and explore the noticeably critical repertoire of mimetic modes, strategies and functions of significations (e.g. repetition, imitation, intertextuality) that a variety of contemporary playwrights draw on. In pursuing to show that mimesis assumes an important functional role in establishing the relation and interaction between artistic production/composition/reception and world/text/reader, I place the appropriation of mimesis in my discussion of contemporary plays in the context of Plato’s and Aristotle’s philosophical and artistic theorizations of mimesis. Moreover, recent contributions to the field of mimetic theory (e.g. Paul Ricoeur’s threefold mimesis) will offer a beneficial methodological backdrop to further understand the role and function mimesis assumes in contemporary Anglophone drama beyond an uncritical imitative mode of presentation.