Approaching the Millennium

Overview

Tony Kushner's complex and demanding play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes has been the most talked about, analyzed, and celebrated play of the decade. It explicitly positions itself in the current American conflict over identity politics, yet also situates that debate in a broader historical context: the American history of McCarthyism, of immigration and the "melting pot", of westward expansion, and of racist exploitation. Furthermore, the play enters into the politically volatile struggles ...
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Overview

Tony Kushner's complex and demanding play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes has been the most talked about, analyzed, and celebrated play of the decade. It explicitly positions itself in the current American conflict over identity politics, yet also situates that debate in a broader historical context: the American history of McCarthyism, of immigration and the "melting pot", of westward expansion, and of racist exploitation. Furthermore, the play enters into the politically volatile struggles of the AIDS crisis, struggles themselves interconnected with the politics of sexuality, gender, race, and class.

The original essays in Approaching the Millennium explore the complexities of the play and situate it in its particular, conflicted historical moment. The contributors help us understand and appreciate the play as a literary work, as theatrical text, as popular cultural phenomenon, and as political reflection and intervention.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Seldom has a new work of dramatic literature been discussed by scholars as widely and quickly as Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning Angels in America. One scholar termed it "a turning point in the history of gay drama, the history of American drama, and of American literary culture." The breadth of the play's thematic concerns, the originality of its construction and characterizations, and the multiple ambivalences of its message guarantee that it will provoke stimulating critical and scholarly discussion. These two volumesthe first works devoted entirely to Kushner to be published in the United Statesrepresent a major step in the canonization of Kushner's "Gay Fantasia on National Themes." Geis and Kruger (both English, Queens Coll., CUNY) have grouped 18 essaysonly two of which are reprintsinto four categories: the play's political and historical themes; issues of racial, ethnic, and religious identity; apocalypse and the millennium; and performance contexts. Though all 18 are stimulating, the academic prose makes the collection appropriate only for collections supporting graduate or advanced undergraduate studies. Vorlicky (drama, New York Univ.) provides a major service by bringing together 22 interviews with Kushner, about half previously published (but several in ephemeral and nonacademic periodicals) and the others transcribed from television talk shows and symposia. The breadth of Kushner's interests and knowledge and the passion of his political and social commitments are on full display here. Reading the two collections together is particularly illuminating, as Kushner's own views at times both confirm and dampen the critical speculations of the scholars. Both volumes are mandatory for academic American literature, theater, or gay studies collections. Public libraries serving substantial gay male populations also should consider the collection of interviews.Robert W. Melton, Univ. of Kansas Libs. Lawrence
Jonathan Freedman
Highly significant and powerful perspectives on a dramatic phenomenon of first-rate significance, substantively putting "Angels in America" on the map as a crucial text in contemporary theater, cultural, and gay and lesbian studies. -- Jonathan Freedman
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780472096237
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1997
  • Series: Theater Series
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.31 (w) x 9.29 (h) x 1.17 (d)

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