Dramatic Closure: Reading the End

Overview

In Dramatic Closure, author June Schlueter explores closure within both a traditional Aristotelian paradigm and contemporary reader-response theory, necessarily revising narrative insights to accommodate the special features of drama as a literary and performance form. Examples of plays from Oedipus to the present appear throughout the book, and individual chapters are dedicated to sustained discussions of William Shakespeare's King Lear, Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Arthur Miller's The ...
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Overview

In Dramatic Closure, author June Schlueter explores closure within both a traditional Aristotelian paradigm and contemporary reader-response theory, necessarily revising narrative insights to accommodate the special features of drama as a literary and performance form. Examples of plays from Oedipus to the present appear throughout the book, and individual chapters are dedicated to sustained discussions of William Shakespeare's King Lear, Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Arthur Miller's The Ride Down Mount Morgan, and Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire. The author emphasizes Shakespeare and, especially, modern drama in the belief that these plays provide salient models of the theoretical principles of reading toward closure. A chapter on tendencies in modern plays covers a wide range of material, suggesting ways in which twentieth-century drama disrupts the Aristotelian model and defers to the provisional or unsettling end. In her theoretical discussion, Schlueter explores how literary, theatrical, and cultural conventions cooperate and collide; how the dramatic or performance text designates what Wolfgang Iser calls a text's "response-inviting structure"; how that structure activates conventions and predispositions throughout its sequence of reading moments, shaping, frustrating, and satisfying expectations; and how readers constitute texts as they read toward closure. The assumption throughout is that all texts, whether stable or transgressive, necessarily engage the question of how, when, and where to end and that all readers, whether of literary or performance texts, are implicated in closure.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780838635834
  • Publisher: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/1995
  • Pages: 144

Table of Contents

Preface 9
1 The Promised End 13
2 The Meaning of the End 19
3 The Reader's Role 24
4 The Conventional End 32
5 The End of Dialogue 41
6 The End of Character 49
7 (Con)testing the End: Tendencies in Modern Plays 58
8 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead: A Postmortem 68
9 The Ride Down Mount Morgan: Scripting the Closing Scene 78
10 Prospective and Retrospective Reading 86
11 Reading Toward Closure: A Streetcar Named Desire 96
12 The Performance Text 107
13 Staging the Promised End 115
14 Curtain Call: Theatrical Closure 124
Notes 129
Works Cited 137
Index 142
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