Performing Autobiography: Contemporary Canadian Drama
In Performing Autobiography, Jenn Stephenson presents an innovative new approach to autobiography studies that links the growing field of research to drama. Stephenson’s analysis engages with performance histories to demonstrate the extent to which the dramatic form, which recasts autobiography as ambiguously fictive, ensures that the experience of the plays remains open to revision, alteration, and interpretation. As such, Performing Autobiography understands this form not to be the impossible documentation of the backward-looking narrative of one’s life, but rather an evolving process of self-creation and transformation.
Stephenson explores the autobiographical form by analysing seven works by Canadian playwrights written and performed between 1999 and 2009, including Judith Thompson’s Perfect Pie, Daniel MacIvor’s In On It, and Timothy Findley’s Shadows. Her analysis encourages us to see autobiography as a uniquely political act, one that, where enacted on stage, illustrates the variety of ways that self-reflection and interpretation has an expanding role in contemporary culture.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 224 pages
- Dimensions: 6.4in x 0.8in x 9.3in
‘Performing Autobiography is a fascinating and important contribution to theatre and drama studies…Jenn Stephenson delivers incredibly in-depth analyses and discussions with a lucidity which is only rarely found.’
Journal of Contemporary Drama in English vol 2:2:2014
“Performing Autobiography is a serious advance in state-of-the-art research in Canadian theatre studies, metatheatre, theatrical biography, and autobiography more generally. With considerable scholarly and intellectual rigour, Jenn Stephenson provides careful readings of key contemporary plays. Her study is meticulously researched, but employs that research carefully and wears its learning lightly.”
Ric Knowles, Professor of Theatre Studies, University of Guelph
“Smart, original, and important, Performing Autobiography is a model of dramatic criticism and a very well executed record of some contemporary Canadian plays. In this elegantly written study, Jenn Stephenson provides both the necessary information and a wonderful sense of texture so that both the expert and the general interest reader can feel thoroughly engaged. She is to be applauded for the scope of work selected and for her terrific case studies.”
Susan Bennett, Department of English, University of Calgary
Author InformationJenn Stephenson is Professor in the Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen’s University. Her book Performing Autobiography: Contemporary Canadian Drama is also published by University of Toronto Press.
Table of contents
- Narrative Failure and the Loss of an Autobiographical Self: Perfect Pie and The Drawer Boy
- Performative Witnessing to Autobiographies of Trauma: Goodness
- Setting Free Silenced Autobiographical Voices: Eternal Hydra and Shadows
- The Autobiographical Body as a Site of Utopian Performativity: Billy Twinkle
- Self-Authoring Characters in Recursive Autothanatography: In On It
PrizesAnn Saddlemyer Award awarded by Canadian Association for Theatre Research - Winner in 2013
Subjects and Courses