Authenticity, Performative Action, and the White American Complaint
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Social Performance: Symbolic Action, Cultural Pragmatics and Ritual. By Jeffery Alexander, Bernhard Geisen and Jason L. Mast (Eds). New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN 052167462X. 392 pages, $43.00 (paper).
The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture. By Lauren Berlant. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. ISBN 0822342022. 368 pages, $23.95 (paper).
From Bill Clinton’s fateful finger-wagging gesture, defiantly stating “I did not…” to Rudy Guiliani’s infamous “noun, verb and 9/11,” performance has literally taken center stage in American politics. Indeed, it is arguable that performative action has taken on increasing relevance in 2008’s year-long season of political theater. Political candidates and their representatives in the media make ritualistic claims—promises—in the speech act sense, which will be shown to be felicitous, in John Austin’s terms, only if the candidate is elected, only if enough people accept the underlying...
KeywordsPolitical Theater Symbolic Action Analytical Distinction Performative Action Nationalist Sentiment
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