ENGL 1F97 Lecture 3: ENGL 1F97 Lecture 3

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18 Feb 2016
Tony Kushner, Angels in America Part 1: Millennium
Plays Approach
Plots that at rst appear unrelated become interconnected
Looking at things we’d rather not think about (source of much
We see the nitty gritty of illness: sores, lesions, blood, stools
We see, especially through Louis, deep fears and inability to face
those fears
We confront sexual practices that some would rather not think
Also see humor, extravagance, hope and connection even when things
seem to be falling completely apart
Intellectual inuences: Walter Benjamin
A Klee drawing named “Angelus Novus” shows an angel looking as
though he is about to move away from something he is xedly
contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are
spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned
toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one
single catastrophe that keeps pilling ruin upon and hurls it in front of
his feet.
The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what
has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from paradise; it has got
caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer
close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which
his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward.
This storm is what we call progress. (Thesis IX)
Historical Process
History written by the winners
In their version, we see movement of history as progress
Benjamin looks from a di/erent angle:
Theses on the philosophy of history
In same essay, Benjamin observes “every document of civilization at
the same time a document of barbarism”
Angle as despairing as helpless to “make whole what has been
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