Please join us this Monday, October 30th at 4:30 pm in Logan 801 for a special section co-hosted by Mass Culture Workshop and Theater & Performance Studies Workshop. This week we welcome Marissa Fenley, PhD student in the joint program in English and Theater & Performance Studies. Her paper is titled “Be A Puppet: Tales of Hoffmann as a Model for Comedic Resistance Under the Trump Regime.”
The paper is available for download here
Tien-Tien Jong, PhD candidate in Cinema and Media Studies will serve as discussant.
Please email either Panpan [firstname.lastname@example.org] or Jenisha [email@example.com] for the password.
Refreshments will be provided.
***Please note the special time and location***
We look forward to seeing you at the workshop!
Yours in Mass Cult,
Panpan and Jenisha
Be A Puppet:
Tales of Hoffmann as a Model for Comedic Resistance Under the Trump Regime
In Mbembe’s critique of Bahktin, a carnivalesque critique of authority is rendered benign if that authority encourages and participates in blatantly grotesque appetites and flaunts its own vulgarity. This critique has particular relevance for current forms of comedic resistance to the Trump regime, a regime built upon its political immunity to the continuous exposure of Trump’s destructive appetites: no one undermines Trump quite as well as he undermines himself. This paper is interested in theorizing a new performative mechanism by which to resist authority and denounce totalitarian regimes through tactical, comedic display. With the aid of two infrequently paired essays of Walter Benjamin and the paradigm of comedic resistance modeled by Powell and Pressburger’s film adaptation of Tales of Hoffmann, this paper suggests that “puppet-hood,” or more explicitly the enunciation “I’m the puppet,” can offer us performative tool to combat Trump’s resistance to foreignness, refusal of access, and remoteness of meaning embedded in his political rhetoric. To uphold the rhetorical thrust of Trump’s notorious “Not a puppet” non-responsive response has political implications that can be exploited for opposite and oppositional ends. To exclaim “I’m the puppet” is to promise the existence of an expressive and therefore self-possessed self, relegated behind the scenes, behind the wall, and therefore to emphatically deny authority access to this self within a political sphere that increasingly denies human rights to its subjects-made-puppet.
Marissa Fenley is a PhD student in the joint program in English and Theater & Performance Studies. She works at the intersections between literary and theatrical modernism, particularly around issues of perception and spectatorship.