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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.66, No.4, 847 ~ 853, 2020
Is “Modern” Enough?: Rethinking Drama after the Holocaust Hoon-sung Hwang, The Evolution of Modern English Drama Seoul: Seoul National University Press, 2020.
Eunha Na
Hoon-sung Hwang’s The Evolution of Modern English Drama (2020) charts the genealogy of dramatists from Ibsen to Beckett and intervenes in the long-standing debate on modernism and postmodernism. Positing the Holocaust as a defining historical juncture after which the project of the Enlightenment gave way to the affective experience of the postmodern sublime, this book delineates a genealogy of dramatic works from Henrik Ibsen to Samuel Beckett under the rubric of modern and postmodern aesthetics through in-depth textual analyses. With the premise that the umbrella term “modern” is insufficient to capture the radical aesthetics of post-Second World War theater, the work proposes a more rigorous engagement with postmodernity as a critical discourse to suggest a “new postmodern episteme in theater” (41) via such postmodern thinkers as Žižek, Lyotard, and Baudrillard. If discourses on postmodernity in theater have predominantly focused on playfulness and performativity, this work undertakes an “epistemological approach” to the postmodern condition that hypervisible performances in theater often conceal. With extensive discussions on modern and postmodern theories and attentive textual readings, The Evolution of Modern English Drama speaks to its readers across disciplines and introduces key debates in post/modern drama to those who are not conversant with theater history or theories. The book further generates thought-provoking questions on the evolving forms of theater as we witness the precarious status of live theater in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of theatre on a global scale.
Key Words
drama, sublime, Enlightenment, postmodern, Holocaust
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