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Marlene Streeruwitz: Eine kritische Einfuehrung in das dramatische Werk unter besonderer Beruecksichtigung von Gewalt und Humor

Nele Hempel, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation gives a first critical introduction to the dramatic works of the contemporary Austrian writer Marlene Streeruwitz. The dissertation's first chapter provides biographical information about the author, situates her in the Austrian post-war cultual context, and examines the specific dramatic and literary techniques that she employs for her postmodern materialist feminist plays. Of particular interest in this introductory chapter are Streeruwitz's method of postmodern citation and her staccato language because they follow an underlying principle of simultaneous affirmation and negation which is characteristic of Streeruwitz's entire works: The flow of action is at the same time disrupted and alienated as it is commented on. Most of Streeruwitz's well-crafted plays are predicated on a unique dramaturgy of violence and humor. The second and third chapter of the dissertation therefore provide a close reading analysis and interpretation of violence and humor in the dramatist's first five plays that form the "English cycle" (New York, New York, Waikiki Beach, Sloane Square, Ocean Drive, and Elysian Park). In both the violence and the humor chapter, the critical analysis of each of the five plays is preceded by extensive socio- and drama-historical background information on the phenomena of violence and humor to determine how Marlene Streeruwitz's dramaturgy is influenced by or independent of literary traditions and sociological debates. The final chapter concludes that the intersection of violence and humor (in combination with the unique stylistic devices employed by the dramatist) serves the author's intent to subvert traditional bourgeois theater standards as well as Western capitalist society's acceptance of violence as natural and necessary. Streeruwitz's plays are an assault on the audience: They send the viewer on an emotional-roller-coaster ride transversing the highs and lows of laughter and shock, enjoyment and discomfort, in order to isolate the individual spectator from the security of the theater-going mass. In this deliberately-orchestrated isolation, Streeruwitz does not only see a chance to fight against the violent potential of mass mentality, but also the possibility of genuine interaction with her art.

Subject Area

Germanic literature|Theater

Recommended Citation

Hempel, Nele, "Marlene Streeruwitz: Eine kritische Einfuehrung in das dramatische Werk unter besonderer Beruecksichtigung von Gewalt und Humor" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9909171.