The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama

The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama

The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama

The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama

Synopsis

The late twentieth century saw an explosion of interest in semiotics, the science of the signs and processes by which we communicate. In this study, the first of its kind in English, Keir Elam shows how this new 'science' can provide a radical shift in our understanding of theatrical performance, one of our richest and most complex forms of communication. Elam traces the history of semiotic approaches to performance, from 1930s Prague onwards, and presents a model of theatrical communication. In the course of his study, he touches upon the 'logic' of the drama and the analysis of dramatic discourse. This edition also includes a new post-script by the author, looking at the fate of theatre semiotics since the publication of this book, and a fully updated bibliography. Much praised for its accessibility, The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama remains a 'must-read' text for all those interested in the analysis of theatrical performance.

Excerpt

No doubt a third General Editor's Preface to New Accents seems hard to justify. What is there left to say? Twenty-five years ago, the series began with a very clear purpose. Its major concern was the newly perplexed world of academic literary studies, where hectic monsters called 'Theory', 'Linguistics' and 'Politics' ranged. In particular, it aimed itself at those undergraduates or beginning postgraduate students who were either learning to come to terms with the new developments or were being sternly warned against them.

New Accents deliberately took sides. Thus the first Preface spoke darkly, in 1977, of 'a time of rapid and radical social change', of the 'erosion of the assumptions and presuppositions' central to the study of literature. 'Modes and categories inherited from the past' it announced, 'no longer seem to fit the reality experienced by a new generation'. The aim of each volume would be to 'encourage rather than resist the process of change' by combining nuts-and-bolts exposition of new ideas with clear and detailed explanation of related conceptual developments. If mystification (or downright demonisation) was the enemy, lucidity (with a nod to the compromises inevitably at stake there) became a friend. If a 'distinctive discourse of the future' beckoned, we wanted at least to be able to understand it.

With the apocalypse duly noted, the second Preface proceeded . . .

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