"Review of Eger Journal of American Studies, Vol. VIII. 2002 and Proceedings of the HUSSDE 1 Conference, Pécs, 25-26 January 2002" by Lívia Szélpál
Lívia Szélpál is a PhD student at the Institute of English and American Studies, University of Szeged, Hungary and Department of History, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lehel Vadon, Ed.
Eger Journal of American Studies, Vol. VIII. 2002
Published by the Department of American Studies, Eszterházy Károly College, Eger, PR-Editor, 2003
The Eger Journal of American Studies, Vol. VIII. 2002 is a bright collection of essays edited by Lehel Vadon. This journal welcomes original articles, essays, and book reviews in English by scholars in Hungary and abroad. The journal is annually published by the Department of American Studies, Eszterházy Károly College, Eger, Hungary where Lehen Vadon is Professor. He is the author and editor of several useful books and textbooks (among many other ones not mentioned here) such as An Anthology of American Prose (1989), Masterpieces of American Drama: an anthology and introduction (1990), Upton Sinclair in Hungary (1993) and Országh László (1997). The Eger Journal of American Studies is the first scholarly journal published in Hungary devoted solely to promote a forum to the expanding fields of American Studies and to the publication of essays investigating and exploring various aspects of American Culture. As the editorial note claims, the journal intends “to cover all major and minor areas of interest ranging from American literature, history, and society to language, popular culture and bibliography” (7). The Eger Journal of American Studies, Vol. VIII. is a discerning and perspicacious interdisciplinary enterprise of fifteen scholarly studies and two thorough bibliographies on the oeuvres of Péter Egri and John Steinbeck written by distinguished scholars of the field: Zoltán Abádi-Nagy, Enikő Bollobás, Judit Borbély, Réka Cristian, László Dányi, Péter Egri, Judit Ágnes Kádár, Mária Kurdi, Judit Molnár, Donald E. Morse, Lenke Németh, András Tarnóc, Lehel Vadon, Gabriella Varró and Zsolt K. Virágos. The eighth volume of the journal presents an array of articles focusing on the interconnection of literature, history, cultural studies, music and gender studies within the field of American Studies. What it may count as the only weakness of this high-quality and reader friendly volume is that the selection of essays does not follow a thematically structured line. Yet, this can be considered to be a major advantage which boils down to the fact that the volume presents an extensively wide spectrum of studies reflecting not the fragmented but the coherently inter/transnationalized polyphonic voices of contemporary American Studies in Hungary.
The eighth volume of Eger Journal of American Studies is a memorial collection and a commemorative tribute to the highly distinguished scholar, Péter Egri (1932-2002). Lehel Vadon’s editorial preface entitled “In Memoriam Péter Egri” (9-12) highlights Egri’s prominent qualities as Professor of English and American literature, his work as the head of the English departments at Kossuth Lajos University, Debrecen and Eötvös Lóránd University, Budapest, and stresses the important place of his colleague, who was a nationally and internationally acknowledged scholar of British, American and European literature, who researched within these fields issues of music, painting and genre theory. Egri is considered to be a scholar of comparative literary and cultural studies whose intertextual readings and comparative methodology in European and Anglo-American culture opened up new perspectives in the field of English and American Studies. He was also a “respected representative of Hungarian culture and scholarship abroad” (11), an inspiring teacher under whose supervision many generations of Hungarian scholars in English Studies wrote their MA and PhD theses. Mária Kurdi wrote a noble toned commemorative essay on the oeuvre of Péter Egri entitled “ ’Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain:’ On the Scholarly Heritage of Péter Egri (1932-2002)” (13-38). Kurdi emphasizes the many-sidedness of Egri’s literary achievements and his substantial contribution to the field of modern American drama. The author emphasizes the fact that by the 1980s, Egri had become an internationally known O’Neill scholar, commissioned to contribute to important and influential collections in the field which was hallmarked by completing and publishing a comparative study entitled Chekhov and O’Neill: The Uses of the Short Story in Chekhov’s and O’Neill’s Plays in 1986. Egri’s major next book in the field of modern drama was The Birth of American Tragedy (1988) which “was written with the intention of introducing mainly university students to the evolution of the drama in America, including a critical summary of the various theories why the genre had come of age so relatively late here” (24). Organically connected to the commemorative tribute to Péter Egri, Lehen Vadon collected his enormous contribution to the literary studies entitled as “Péter Egri’s Scholarly Achievements: His Bibliography” (39-68) which contains 288 articles, monographs and edited volumes from 1955 until Egri’s death in 2002. The extended bibliography reflects Egri’s wide range of knowledge, fields of interest and research from “English and American literature to Hungarian, German, Russian, Irish, French, Spanish and Norwegian literature, from Renaissance studies to modernism, from drama to short story, from painting to music” (39). The volume posthumously published Péter Egri’s last article titled “(Per)Chance: Joyce and Cage” (69-89) which is an interdisciplinary endeavor pivoting around issues of the Barthesian image/music/text. Egri vividly and pleasurably presents his encounter of avant-garde literature and music by analyzing the work of the composer John Cage, who adapted a passage from page 556 of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, and called it the Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs. Péter Egri was the key-note lecturer at HUSSE 5 Conference in Eger, where in his last lecture on Joyce and Cage Egri―as Lehel Vadon recalls―accompanied his elaborate presentation with the sound of music of his piano-playing which carried his hearers with him (11).
The volume contains also a deep interview with Raymond Federman made by Zoltán Abádi-Nagy (Professor at the Department of North American Studies, University of Debrecen) entitled as “Conversations with Raymond Federman: Take It or Leave It and The Voice in the Closet” (91-106). The interview was taken on 19 February 1986; some other sections of the book-size talks between Federman and Abádi-Nagy have already been published separately as follows: the discussion addressed to fiction generally (“An Interview with Raymond Federman”) is available in Modern Fiction Studies (34.2 (1988): 157-70), while the Hungarian version of the same section is available in Hungarian in Világregény-regényvilág: amerikai íróinterjúk (The Novel of the World-The World of the Novel: Conversations with American Writers; Debrecen: Kossuth Egyetemi Kiadó, 1997. 213-51); the section devoted to Double or Nothing has also been published in English (“Conversations with Raymond Federman: Double or Nothing.” Happy Return Essays for István Pállfy. Ed. Péter Szaffkó and Tamás Bényei. Debrecen: KLTE, 1999. 270-278); The Twofold Vibration segment was carried by the Federman issue of Experimental Fiction (“Twofold Welcome to Raymond Federman.” 23 (2002): 139-59). In the interview from the eighth volume of Eger Journal of American Studies, Professor Federman discusses the above-mentioned works. A good part of the interview is dedicated to the issue of Holocaust literature which affected Federman’s personal history. Federman shares with the reader an interesting anecdote by recalling one of his dreams in which he had a discussion with Claude Lanzman about their obsession with the Shoah. As Federman recalls their discussion is his dream, Lanzman spent a large part of his life making movies about the Holocaust, and he also spent his life writing novels about it; yet neither Lanzman nor Federman did not suffer directly from the Holocaust since they have no marks on their bodies and they are living their fairly comfortable lives. Finally, they reached the same conclusion in the dream: “what we suffer of, we both said to each other simultaneously, is an absence – the absence of our parents, brothers and sisters, but also the absence of not having there totally. Perhaps what we really suffer of is the absence of our own death” (99). Federman’s answer to the limits and problems of Holocaust representation is an allegorical one: several months after this discussion dream with Lanzman, Federman saw the movie Soah which greatly impressed and disturbed him so he decided to get in touch personally with Lanzman and tell him about the dream. He managed to get Lanzman’s phone number, he dialed it and the phone started to ring, but suddenly he hung up. His wife, who was in the room at that time asked him why he hung up. “I have already spoken with Claude Lanzman,” he answered, “I don’t need to talk to him any more…” As Ferderman’s argument concludes “I think ABSENCE is the key term in all this” (100).
Enikő Bollobás, who is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of American Studies at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary in her interdisciplinary essay on “(De-)Gendering and (De-)Sexualizing Female Subjectivites: Women-Hating and Its Revisions in Literature and Painting” (107-121) focuses on American and English male misogynist and American female non-misogynist writers, identifying in both cases forms of misogyny that are either present or apparently absent. The main argument of her essay is that this absence is so evident and striking in the women’s work, “that its dismissal can be interpreted as a demonstrative act of destroying icons and attitudes that our culture seems to take for granted” (107). The primary sources of her analysis are the works of some American women writers―Getrude Stein, Willa Cather, Djuna Barnes, and H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)―as well as the contemporary Hungarian born visual artist, Orshi Drodzik. “The Writer’s Paintings and the Painter’s Scenes” (123-133) written by Judit Borbély (Assistant Professor at the Department of English Applied Linguistics, Eötvös Lóránd University, Budapest) is another study exploring the interrelation of literary and visual studies. Borbély focuses on the presence and function of ekphrasis tradition in Henry James’s novels which emphasizes the role of creative imagination in James’ oeuvre.
László Dányi (Assistant Professor at the Department of American Studies, Eszterházy Károly College, Eger) focuses on the literary history of the Southern ethos in his paper entitled as “On the Bad Side of the Fence: Fiascos of Southern Ethos” (171-185). Donald E. Morse (Professor at the English Department, Oakland University, Michigan, USA) provides an authentic description and history of the American exceptionalism concerning the tradition of apocalyptic literature. This apocalyptic image is a recurring motif and embedded in the nineteenth century missionary movements like in the Millerites, as Morse’s essay “The End of the World in American History and Fantasy: The Trumpet of the Last Judgment” (219-236) argues. Another historical study of the volume is focusing on “Violence as Cultural Projection: The Sociological, Psychological, and Epistemological Implications of the Jamestown Massacre” (247-260) written by András Tarnóc (Associate Professor at the Department of American Studies, Eszterházy Károly College, Eger). Tarnóc interestingly but a bit boldly―and let the reader add, ahistorically― describes the Jamestown Massacre (1622) as a terrorist and collective action of the oppressed Native Americans. He uses contemporary psychological, sociological and epistemological theories of terrorism to legitimate his argumentation. Nevertheless, the reader is not convinced about its validity and believes that this asymmetrical comparison is a bit exaggerated with respect to the contemporary internationally problematic definition(s) of terror.
The North American prose tradition and literary theory are represented in the volume by four essays written by Judit Ágnes Kádár (Assistant Professor at the Department of American Studies, Eszterházy Károly College, Eger), Judit Molnár (Associate Professor at the Department of North American Studies, University of Debrecen), Gabriella Varró (Assistant Professor at the Department of North American Studies, University of Debrecen) and Zsolt K. Virágos (Professor at the Department of North American Studies, University of Debrecen). Kádár in her intelligent essay on ‘”Kleenex-view’ and Cultural Devaluation: Merchandise as Ontology in Don DeLillo’s White Noise (1985)” (187-203) investigates DeLillo’s mentioned novel and compares ironically and wittily the contemporary campus- and higher education life to the “toxic labyrinth” of a supermarket where one can get his/her daily dose of cheap cult mystery (195-196). Molnár in her essay entitled as “The Spatio-Temporal Dimension of Diasporic Discourse from the Caribbean on the Canadian Literary Scene” (205-217) focuses on the case studies of selected works by two Canadian authors: Austin C. Clarke and Dionne Brand, “who can trace back their roots to the Caribbean in their idiosyncratic way” (205). Varró in “The Adventures of the Minstrel Sign in Mark Twain’s _Huckleberry Finn_” smartly explores the minstrel tradition and its pragmatic role in Mark Twain’s novel. Virágos in his quite profound essay on “The Twilight Zone of Myth-and-Literature Studies: Analogy, Anomaly, and Intertextuality” (277-289) explores the interconnection of myth making and intertextuality via analogies with the field of Cultural Studies.
Two articles written by Lenke Németh and Réka Cristian are focusing on the topic of modern American drama. Németh (Assistant Professor at the Department of North American Studies, University of Debrecen) in her study entitled “Academia as a Carnivalized Space: A Bakhtian Reading of David Mamet’s Oleanna_” (237-245) cleverly investigates Mamet’s highly provocative and controversial play _Oleanna (1992) which “explores a student-teacher relationship, the consequences of ineffective teaching, and the issue of sexual harassment in the context of American higher education” (237). Németh introduces the notion of business space as a new carnival image for describing the Academia. In this sense, her study shares the same argument with Judit Ágnes Kádár and reflects Lyotard’s anticipation by arguing that higher education has undergone a process of commercialization both in its aims and practice: “knowledge has been commodified, and simultaneously, the method of instruction has been depersonalized” (241). Réka Cristian’s innovatively critical study about “Edward Albee’s Casting” (135-170) meets a long-felt want for comprehensively and freshly exploring the Albeean oeuvre. Cristian is a scholarly expert on the field of modern American Drama. She smoothly and elegantly investigates Albee’s dramatis personae by searching for and connecting them to the name of the playwright. As Cristian argues, Albee’s plays are centered on the duality of love and hate that sublimate into dramatic filiations where the characters seem to act in couples and, therefore, supplement each other. The primary sources of the study are The Zoo Story, A Delicate Balance, The American Dream, Marriage Play, Counting the Ways, Finding the Sun, with references to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Play About the Baby, and some remarks about Three Tall Women and Sandbox. The main argument of the paper is that the present (or absent) child is the major catalyzing force and relational (latent) rhetoric of Albee’s dramaturgy. The cast of Albee’s plays takes part in the process of encoding and unveiling the dramatic blindspot in Albee’s dramas, which is the figure of the enigmatic child. As Cristian argues, “this trope of the child is revealed in the emblematic dual constructions of the dramatic cast” (136). The bright argumentation and the extensive bibliography convince the reader that Cristian’s study is a substantial contribution to modern American drama, perhaps a topic for a helpful monograph.
The volume is framed by a bibliography titled “John Ernst Steinbeck: A Hungarian Bibliography” collected and compiled by Lehel Vadon. The bibliography is a mark of the compiler’s respect of the 100th anniversary of John Steinbeck’s birth and it aims to provide a reasonably complete record of publications―both primary and secondary―of Steinbeck translated into Hungarian with its 250 items. The bibliography serves to be a useful resource for academic circles and the project intends to grow into a continuing tradition of the Eger Journal of American Studies by launching for a bibliographical series of major American authors in Hungary which is more than welcomed. The Eger Journal of American Studies, Vol. VIII. 2002 is a profound and useful resource for academic researches with its bibliographical projects and, with its interdisciplinary ambitions, a crucial contribution to the field of contemporary American Studies. The volume is a stimulating, through and intellectually challenging collection of essays on gender studies, American prose and drama theory, cultural studies and history written by prominent scholars from the field. As its interdisciplinary character requires, the volume covers issues from dominant discourses to alternative readings.
Mária Kurdi and Péter Szaffkó, Eds.
Proceedings of the HUSSDE 1 Conference, Pécs, 25-26 January 2002
Published by Department of English Literatures and Cultures, University of Pécs, Pécs: MacMaestro, 2004.
ISBN 963 642 0173
The Proceedings of the HUSSDE 1 Conference, Pécs, 25-26 January 2002 edited by Mária Kurdi and Péter Szaffkó is an elegant and intelligently structured collection of essays written by academics and PhD students on the topic of drama and theatre studies. Mária Kurdi is a distinguished Hungarian scholar and the author and editor of many books and textbooks such as the Nemzeti önszemlélet a mai ír drámában: 1960-1990 (National Self-Approach in the Contemporary Irish Drama: 1960-1990. Budapest: Akadémia Kiadó, 1999), Codes and Masks: Aspects of Identity in Contemporary Irish Plays in an Intercultural Context (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Verlag, 2000), Critical Anthology for the Study of Modern Irish Literature (Budapest: Nemzeti Tankönyvkiadó, 2003), and Otthonkeresés a színpadon: beszélgetések ír drámaírókkal (Searching for the Home on the Stage: Conversations with Irish Playwrights. Debrecen: Kossuth Egyetemi Kiadó, 2004). Péter Szaffkó is a prominent scholar in the field of English Studies. He is the author, editor and translator of several books ranging from Basic English Literary Terms (Budapest: Nemzeti Tankönyvkiadó, 1992), Shakespeare és az angol klaszikus történelmi drama: kritikatörténeti áttekintés (Shakespeare and the English Classical Historical Drama: a critical survey. Budapest: Eötvös József Könyvkiadó, 1999). In the Preface of the volume, the editors outline the main aims of the volume corresponding to the curricula of the HUSSDE (Hungarian Society for the Study of Drama in English). The volume is the Proceedings of the HUSSDE 1 Conference which took place at Művészetek Háza, Pécs, 25-26 January 2002 organized by the Department of English Literatures and Cultures of the University of Pécs. HUSSDE is a sub-section of HUSSE (Hungarian Society for the Study of English), which was created at the combined HAAS (Hungarian Association for American Studies)-HUSSDE Conference, hosted by the Institute of English and North American Studies, University of Debrecen, in 2001. The ambition of the HUSSDE is to foster cooperation among those Hungarian scholars and students whose main field of interest and research is drama and theatre studies in English. However, the main goal of the HUSSDE 1 Conference was to provide and promote a scholarly venue for the exchange and discussion of views concerning research, as well as aspects of teaching and practical work in the field of Hungarian English and American Studies. The conference brought together fifty academics and PhD students from various universities and colleges of Hungary for a two-day program containing one plenary lecture and nine sections with four papers in each. The essays collected in the volume, as the editors claim, reflect the ambitions of the conference and represent a wide spectrum of research in the field of drama and theatre in English, highlighting different approaches, theoretical frameworks and methodologies.
The Proceedings of the HUSSDE 1 Conference, Pécs, 25-26 January 2002 is a memorial volume, dedicated to the honorable memory of Professor István Pálffy (1929-2001) who was the first president of the HUSSDE and a distinguished scholar of drama and theatre studies in English. He published numerous books, essays and textbooks in the field, worked with theatre groups and thought hundreds of students at the University of Debrecen and the University of Miskolc. Honoring his eminent work in the field of HUSSDE, the editors dedicated the volume to his memory (6). The book contains fourteen essays and is logically divided into the following parts: the text of the plenary lecture is followed by papers on British, Irish and North American drama, respectively, and, finally, by papers on drama and theatre in translation and education (6). The plenary lecture was given by Professor Richard Allen Cave from Royal Holloway College, University of London on “Postmodernism and Recent British Theatre” (8-31). Cave intends to provide a pragmatic definition for postmodern theory by determining some recurring features in the dramaturgy of four contemporary English playwrights which he believes generally recurring in discussions of postmodernist art-works. The author investigates selected “performance texts” (10) of Caryl Churchill, Sarah Kane, Martin Crimp and Mark Ravenhill by relying on the theoretical works of Alex Seago, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Frederic Jameson, Linda Hutcheon or Julia Kristeva. In the British Drama section of the volume, Zsolt Mohi (Lecturer at the Department of English Literature and Culture, Gáspár Károli University, Budapest) focuses on the senses and sensory perception in Othello in his essay entitled as “’Look, What Lights Come Yond?’ Sensory Perception and Uncertainty in Othello_” (32-40). Emília Szaffner (Lecturer at the Department of English, University of Veszprém) investigates “Interpretations of a Victorian Comedy: Bulwer-Lytton’s _Money_” (41-51). Bálint Szele (PhD Student, University of Miskolc) wrote a paper on “The Rebirth of Language in T.S. Eliot’s _Sweeney Agonistes, or How Jazz Fertilized the Language of the Stage” (52-57). Péter P. Müller’s (Professor at the Department of Modern Literary History and Literary Theory, University of Pécs) essay on “The Representation of Bodies in Stoppard’s Plays” (58-66) frames the English Drama section and provides a sophisticated journey into the field of postmodern body theory.
Irish drama theory is represented by three texts written by Eglantina Remport (PhD Student at the Institute of English and American University, Eötvös Lóránd University, Budapest), Zsuzsa Csikai (PhD Student at the Institute of English and American University, Eötvös Lóránd University, Budapest) and Klaudia Papp (PhD Student at the Institute of English and American Studies, University of Debrecen). Remport’s paper focuses on the theatre of the absurd and entitled as “Words without Acts: Lady Gregory and the Absurd” (67-74). Csikai’s essay on “Hibernicising Chekhov: Thomas Kilroy’s Adaptation of The Seagull_” (75-82) investigates the problematic issues of adaptation and translation. Finally, Papp analyzes contemporary “_female-centered plays_” (85) in her paper on “’Parents as Is Lovers Is Noh Parents ah all’”: Aspects of Motherhood in Marina Carr’s _The Mai and _By the Bog of Cats_” (83-89).
The volume is partially framed by the “Drama in Translation and Education” part with two essays written by Márton Mesterházi (Script Editor, Drama and Literature Department of the Hungarian Radio, Budapest) and Ágnes Sz. Pallai (Assistant Professor at the Institute of English Language, College of Kecskemét). Mesterházi focuses on the Hungarian translations of Yeats in his paper on “’The Dreaming of the Bones’: The Selected Plays of William Butler Yeats in Hungarian Translation” (131-139). Pallai introduces the concept and pragmatic program of Theatre in Education (TIE) in her essay on “TIE: Midway between Theatre and Education” (140-148).
The “North American Drama” part of the volume is a profound contribution to the field of contemporary American Studies, more precisely to the field of American drama studies. In this section, the reader is introduced to the works and dramas of such authors like Ntozake Shange, an Afro-American female dramatist, poet and performing artist or the Canadian David Freeman whose considerably unfortunate anonymity in Hungarian theatrical circles may result from the rather specific thematic scopes their works seem to cover. As a first contributor in this section, Krisztina Dankó (Assistant Professor at Ferenc Kölcsey Reformed Teacher Training College, Debrecen) with convincing argumentation but a bit boldly built work aims to connect Tennessee Williams’ early plays such as The Lady of Larkspur Lotion (written in 1938, published in 1942, first performed in 1949), Hello from Bertha (written in 1938, published in 1945, first staged in 1961), The Frosted Glass Coffin (written in 1941, published in 1969, first produced in 1970), The Last of My Solid Gold Watches (written in 1942, published in 1943, first produced in 1947), Camino Real (first version written in 1946, reworked in 1948, staged and published in 1953), Talk to Me Like Rain and Let Me Listen (written in 1950, published in 1953, first produced in 1958) to the Theatre of the Absurd. Dankó in her paper on “Tennessee Williams and the Theatre of the Absurd” (90-107) argues that these plays written by Williams in between 1938 and 1950 “fit into the tradition of what later was called absurd, and can be interpreted as immediate precursors to this fashionable theatrical movement of the fifties” (93). Dankó draws the reader’s attention to the fact that besides the popular Broadway dramatist there was another Williams in the background who was an experimenter vis-à-vis the conventions of realism. In the above mentioned plays, as Dankó summarizes, Williams employed a nonrealistic dramaturgy characteristics of the absurd which relied less on action and plot, presented characters as representatives of abstractions and used a minimalist language (93). Following Dankó’s argumentation, it seems that the American Theatre of the Absurd, having been transported from Europe, did not appear suddenly with Albee, on the contrary “its creation was an organic process built on the heritage of previous playwrights” (103). Thus, as the author of the essay concludes, O’Neill, Williams and Albee equally explored the absurdity of the human condition and presented the falseness of the American Dream in their plays. Lenke Németh (Assistant Professor at the Institute of English and North American Studies, University of Debrecen) in her essay entitled “Elements of Carnivalization: Devices of Characterization in David Mamet’s Plays” vividly reads the Bakhtinian interpretation of carnivalization into Mamet’s dramatic output which seemingly treats women characters as “peripheral creatures” (108). Németh argues that Mamet revises this male-conventional portrayal of women protagonists by his apparently misogynistic treatment of female characters, and “traces and diagnoses crucial transformations in women’s gender identity, the displacement of their socially and culturally ascribes roles in patriarchy” (108). Thus, Dr. Margaret Ford in House of Games, for instance, is presented as a profoundly carnivalized character; she is no longer a member of a both culturally and socially well-defined position as a psychologist, neither she is incorporated into the “male world of the con men” (114). Having been exploited professionally, financially, and sexually, Dr. Ford restores her identity by physically annihilating her former oppressor, Mike and transforms into the subversive character of a con-woman. Indeed, Németh concludes that Mamet’s women characters generally speaking subvert and disrupt male dominance and carnivalize the patriarchal society.
In the essay entitled as “Tarragon-Founding Creeps,” (117-122) Szabolcs Szilágyi (Lecturer at the Institute of English and North American Studies, University of Debrecen) introduces the reader into the state funded world of the contemporary Canadian theatre. Interestingly, Szilágyi highlights the fact that as a result of the “Centennial of Confederation in the mid-1960s the Federal Government felt that it was a great opportunity to gain popularity by promoting pride in nationhood, and since the most obvious manifestation of national identity is culture, a logical move was to support financially artistic self-expression” (117). It meant that regional theaters were founded all over Canada and plays appeared like David Freeman’s Creeps which was placed in original Canadian setting and focused on contemporary social problems such as the issue of handicapped citizens. The aim of Creeps was to shock the “normal” world by presenting an insight into the bitter, ironic and semi-realistic life of a shelter, and the success of the play indirectly helped the opening of a new theatre, the Tarragon Theatre with the key words of “new, fresh, challenging and Canadian” (122). Gabriella Varró’s (Lecturer, Institute of English and American Studies, University of Debrecen) paper on “Signifying Practices in Ntozake Shange’s _spell #7_” (123-130) explores the play of Shange by highlighting two types of signification, “one that occurs in the unique semiotic system of the white created minstrel stage, and, secondly, signifying as it is understood and applied within the context of black discourses” (123). Varró’s article is a crucial contribution to Afro-American studies by presenting Shange and raising the interest of the Hungarian academic public to the Afro-American playwright’s oeuvre, who was born as Paulette Williams and her adopted name as Shange is a Zulu name meaning “she who comes with her own things” and “she who walks like a lion.” Shange’s dramas, novels and poems focus on the apparent problems of African-American women, “measuring the chances of black female cultural production in the still hegemonic and exclusive cultural landscape of the American theatrical word” (123).
The Proceedings of the HUSSDE 1 Conference, Pécs, 25-26 January 2002 is a useful and thought provoking contribution to the field of drama and theatre studies in Hungary. The strength of the volume lies in its logical structure and careful selection of articles that cover the international horizon of drama theories from the context of British, North American and Irish culture. Readers of the volume will be impressed by the through scholarship and intellectual sweep of essays which provide a practical and helpful resource to academics and PhD students, as well.