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Nostalgia is a Disease!: Geography of 21st Century America in Lynn Nottage’s Sweat

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2018, 31(2), pp.109-133
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Yon-hee Chun 1

1성신여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper aims at researching political/economic geography of 21st century America through the lens of post Black aesthetics in the play of African American playwright Lynn Nottage. In her recent play Sweat, Nottage portrays the crisis of community in Reading, Pennsylvania, a town which represents blue collar workers in the Rust Belt area and encounters serious unemployment issues due to the neo-liberal economic system in the age of globalization. Sweat foregrounds and focuses its microcosmic lens on both a public space and a private space, a ‘bar’, where the factory workers of Olstead Steel in Reading share their lives. Nottage explores the crisis of deconstruction set in motion by serious conflicts in that Olstead community that had previously been characterized as a town of sustained social harmony and stability in terms of sex, race and class due to the flexible employment found within a market economic system. She also depicts the stratification of the community, explores a newly defined ‘neo-liberalism racism’ and integrates all as the conglomerate result of a trap of uncertainty created by a market economy. Contemporaneously, Nottage suggests cosmopolitanism as an alternative macro-narrative to overcome the crisis and negative effects from neo-liberalism, and she also reclaims the bar as an origin from which energy can provide gaiety and conviviality beyond the barrier of gender, race and class. Thus, Nottage tries to show us the reclaiming and redemption of what was lost in a past America by citizens’ attempts to seize on the opportunity to redefine the future via the recovery of the Reading community. Nottage, who won the 2nd Pulitzer Prize in Drama,was privileged with the opportunity to stage Sweat on Broadway theater, thereby showing the intertextuality of politics and stage, surpassing any racial categorization.

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