Literature & Criticism / Drama


Get the Guests
Psychoanalysis, Modern American Drama, and the Audience
Walter A. Davis

Through a detailed reading of five great modern American plays—The Iceman Cometh, A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, Long Day's Journey Into Night, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?—Walter A. Davis calls for a more penetrating look at drama and its psychological impact on the audience. Establishing connections between literary criticism and psychoanalysis, he challenges ruling assumptions of both disciplines. Unconventional and original, his theory demonstrates how the theater, as a potential threat to social order, expresses the secrets and discontents of its audience.

"In its ability to integrate the knowledgeable interests of a literary critic and theorist of broad disciplinary expertise with the experience and practical know-how of a man of the theater, Get the Guests is unparalleled. Davis is a man of the theater, he reads plays as theatrical events, and he can get at plays in ways that most people of the theater cannot because he is a superb theorist and scholar as well."—Frank Lentricchia, Duke University

"What is so exciting about this book is the way it goes against so much conventional wisdom on modern drama and the current American theater scene... and against so many second-hand ideas about psychoanalytic criticism and academic interpretation.... Davis practically demolishes the ritual-based readings of theater, and shows them to be a way of avoiding the kind of individual introspection and ruthless honesty about our psyches that only a tragic outlook can satisfy."—Timothy Wiles, Indiana University

Walter A. (Mac) Davis is professor of English at Ohio State University. He is the author of Inwardness and Existence: Subjectivity in/and Hegel, Heidegger, Marx, and Freud, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press and of Act of Interpretation. Long an actor in regional theaters, he has completed his first full-length play, The Holocaust Memorial: A Play About Hiroshima.


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This Davis book is red and has two tan-colored abstract images that are mirror images of eachother and may or may not be meant to be brains

June 1994  
LC: 93-038608 PS
288 pp.  6 x 9
ISBN 0-299-14154-3 Paper $19.95 s

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