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date: 18 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter, Rankine argues for August Wilson’s place in the discussion of Greek drama in the Americas. Although Wilson never staged any of the big three Greek playwrights, Aeschylus, Sophocles, or Euripides, and his advocacy for telling specifically African-American stories sometimes led to a strident public stance against black actors’ and playwrights’ uncritical engagement with European drama, his own reading of Aristotle’s Poetics and blackface minstrelsy belied his political stance. Given Wilson’s reading of Poetics, Wilson’s position in Greek drama is firm and operates at a theoretical level, while onstage his subversion of the stereotypes attendant to blackface minstrelsy challenges a Modernism central to the emergence of American drama. Owing to the Wilsonian understanding of Aristotle’s spectacle, opsis, Rankine argues that Wilson’s Radio Golf is Greek drama in America.

Keywords: August Wilson, Aristotle, Poetics, spectacle, opsis, blackface, blackface minstrelsy, Old Joe, authenticity, masks, American Modernism, Primitivism

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