Date of Degree
Mary Ann Caws
Theatre and Performance Studies
In the light of recent interdisciplinary critical approaches to landscape and space, and adopting phenomenological methods of sensory analysis, this dissertation explores interconnected or synesthetic sensory "scapes" in contemporary British playwright Harold Pinter's theatre. By studying its dramatic landscapes and probing into their multi-sensory manifestations in line with Symbolist theory and aesthetics, I argue that Pinter's theatre articulates an ecocritical stance and a micropolitical critique.
Chapter One explains the dissertation's theoretical framework (landscape theory, Symbolist theory, ecocriticism, phenomenology, and sensory analysis), while arguing for an ecophilosophical reading of Pinter's landscapes that engages not only with spatial patterns but also with the bodyscapes and psychic ecology of his characters. Chapter Two examines the theoretical/aesthetic Symbolist qualities of Pinter's dramaturgy. Chapter Three connects Pinter's sensory scapes to the theories of space and time developed by Henri Bergson, revealing how they are concerned with subjective time as it is lived, with the spatiotemporal circularity of past, present, and future (related to the ouroboros symbol), and with the way one can imaginatively re/create one's own self through life. Chapter Four discusses how Pinter's apocalyptic landscapes evoke the horror of the Holocaust, and denounce the tradition of oppression (or the structures of uncontrolled violence) that repeatedly produces new social and ecological catastrophes. Chapter Five draws upon feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray's concepts of sexual difference to demonstrate the negative ecological effects of a monological patriarchal system of moral values upon family and conjugal life, as expressed in Pinter's oppressive and abusive homescapes.
Throughout this study I activate an interdisciplinary dialogue between Pinter's landscapes and those found in works by Symbolist (and Decadent) artists/thinkers (Mallarmé, Rilke, Briusov, Maeterlinck, Rachilde, Patricio, Yeats, Munch, Sacher-Masoch, and Kafka.). Adopting phenomenological views of subjectivity (suggested by Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Gaston Bachelard, and Stanton Garner, among others), I invoke Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's notion of micropolitics, as well as the latter's concept of a combined ecology--mental, social, and environmental--to discuss how a study of sensory scapes reveals the presence of ecophilosophical and political concerns all through Pinter's dramatic oeuvre.
Corrêa, Graça, "Synesthetic Landscapes in Harold Pinter’s Theatre: A Symbolist Legacy" (2010). CUNY Academic Works.