Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Just in case

you are wondering what I am doing as I remain rather quiet here - busy week!

Satire assignment #3
Due in class on Wednesday 4/1

We have spoken in class this week about the flexibility and adaptability of the “rehearsal” play, and you’ve seen how different Fielding’s Author’s Farce is from Buckingham’s Rehearsal and yet how clearly Fielding’s play is indebted to the earlier one. I want you to write me a few pages that muse on the issues that emerge from reading this particular kind of satire, and I offer you the following questions less as actual choices than to give you some sense of the range of possibilities for what you might write.

Possible questions (or make your own, or work out some hybrid between two of these ones that lets you explore a topic of interest to you):

1. Choose one scene in Buckingham’s The Rehearsal and imagine (either by trying to write it, or by speculating about what it might look like) a modern updating or adaptation of the particular technique or trope or joke on some form of cultural absurdity that caused you to select that scene or passage. How transferable are the tropes? Which parts of Buckingham’s technique are still “live,” and which would require intellectual contortions to update into anything meaningful?

2. What did Fielding learn between writing The Author’s Farce near the beginning of his theatrical career and Pasquin near the end of it?

3. Write a modern updating of the underworld sequence/puppet show from The Author’s Farce, then add a paragraph of critical reflection on what that exercise showed you about Fielding’s cultural world and our own (or about the techniques available to Fielding and those available to a dramatist in contemporary America).

4. Choose a contemporary work that falls into the broad category of a “rehearsal” piece (you might go as far afield as things like Tropic Thunder and 30 Rock, which are more “making of” than “rehearsal” but seem to me to fit under the essential rubric in a meaningful way) and isolate one essential similarity and one essential difference between your chosen work and The Rehearsal.

5. I spoke in class this week about the dilemma experienced alike by Buckingham and Swift and Fielding, that the cultural forms they deplore and wish to satirize also in some fundamental sense provide the basic idiom which is available to the satirists themselves, like it or not – that the genres in which all three writers compose are constitutively modern, even when they are most blatantly excoriating the intellectual excesses and artistic indulgences of the moderns. Choosing one specific example from this semester’s reading as your starting point, offer a few pages of musings on how this double bind worked in the eighteenth century and what it might mean for us now.

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