Author: Les Essif
Author info: Professor of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures
Publication Date: March 2013
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Synopsis: Representation of American characters and spaces in French plays have increased dramatically in number, nature and nuance since the 1960s, and this book explores the role that ‘America’ plays in the French imagination, as it translates on the French stage. The book begins with an introduction that brings together a rich variety of Western cultural scholarship, including Baudrillard’s concepts of American ‘unculture’ and ‘hyperreality,’ Debray’s ‘homo americanus,’ and Eagleton’s distinction between a dialectical culture and an undialectical one. The following four chapters are organized according to the dominant theme of each of the plays: America as a hyperreal western frontier; homo americanus and war and violence; Americano-global business; and America as spectacle and counter-communal. The book examines how a range of prominent post-1960 French playwrights (such as Gatti, Benedetto, Cixous and Vinaver) represent an American ‘unculture’ – a mass US culture of capitalist consumerism, image, spectacle and international imperialism – and offers a valuable comparative study of American and French contemporary society and culture.