Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
This project argues that theatrical adaptations of Greek tragedy exemplify the functioning of a cosmopolitan cultural commonwealth. Dramatists like Christine Evans, Colin Teevan, David Greig, Marina Carr, Femi Osofisan, Moira Buffini, and Yael Farber enact intercultural collaborations to reshape material from a cultural common and make that material meaningful for contemporary audiences. This collaborative ethos of drawing from shared source material undermines the logic of neoliberal late capitalism, which is premised on property ownership and individualist competition. "Buying Thebes" contributes to adaptation studies scholarship by theorizing a political economy of adaptation, combining both a formal reading of adaptation as an aesthetic practice and a political reading of adaptation as a form of resistance.;Drawing an ethical center from Kwame Anthony Appiah's work on cosmopolitanism and Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's theory of the common, I argue that Attic tragedy forms a cultural commonwealth from which dramatists the world over can rework, reimagine, and restage materials to build new worlds through the arts. Neoliberalism imposes an economized market logic on all social and cultural interactions, which erodes possibilities for rounded humanity, democracy, and social justice. However, contemporary adapters resist these attacks both with overtly anti-capitalist content and through the aesthetic structures of adaptation and performance. Chapter I begins to theorize adaptation as a collaborative form. Chapter II traces resistance to the reduction of human beings to homo oeconomicus. Chapter III examines resistance to the erosion of democracy and a non-marketized public sphere. Chapter IV argues against the global inequality reproduced in economic (neo)colonialism. Chapter V claims Yael Farber's Molora exemplifies the hybrid cosmopolitanism that characterizes all adaptation. And finally, the Conclusion brings together the arguments from each chapter to demonstrate how theatrical adaptation performs a cosmopolitan cultural commonwealth in defiance of neoliberal political economy.
Zapkin, Phillip, "Buying Thebes: Promoting a Cultural Commonwealth in Contemporary Anglophone Adaptations of Greek Tragedy" (2017). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 7027.