Deconstructing Turning Points. A postscript on the canonization of the avant-garde 1900
Keywords:Historiography, periodization, modernism, avant-garde, development, archive, sources, Postlewait, Derrida
Deconstructing Turning Points is an attempt to understand why and how the period around the turn of the nineteenth century has been described as a “breakthrough of modern theatre”. Texts by Gösta M. Bergman, Christopher Innes and Erika Fischer-Lichte about this period are examined in order to see how these authors construct periodization. Leaning towards Thomas Postlewait’s concept of periods and Jacques Derrida’s deconstructive approach to discourse, the article points out some paradigmatic assumptions in the discussed texts. The three authors are not compared – writing in different languages and for different purposes – but some of the underlying paradigms become visible, namely their relation to historical development and their view of theatre as the work of the director. As an alternative, the article turns to archival possibilities. New concepts of what an archive is and can do, as Derrida sees them, open up for a living and challenging relation to archival sources, not just as evidence of prefabricated hypotheses, but as inspiring traces of the past.
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