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Staging Buenos Aires : Theater, Society, and Politics in Argentina 1860-1920 - Kristen McCleary

Staging Buenos Aires

Theater, Society, and Politics in Argentina 1860-1920

By: Kristen McCleary

Hardcover | 11 June 2024

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How Theater Expanded the Public Sphere and Contributed to Argentina's Democratization. Staging Buenos Aires centers theater as a source of historical inquiry to understand how nonelites experienced and shaped a city undergoing dramatic transformations. Commercial theater constituted the core of the city's public sphere, one in which middle-class playwrights and audiences assumed the leading role. Audiences and critics often disagreed about what was "acceptable" entertainment. Playwrights used theater to promote their own ideas of sociopolitical change, creating a space for working- and middle-class audiences to identify and push back against imposed regulations and attitudes. Cultural production on the city's stages revealed fissures and social anxieties about the expansion of the political system and of the public sphere as women became increasingly visible in urban spaces. At the same time, theater also gave structure and meaning to these rapid changes, providing the space for the city's playwrights and complex publics to play a key role in identifying, processing, and shaping the transforming nation. Plays helped audience members work through dramatic shifts in societal norms as urbanization and industrialization resulted in the visible decline of patriarchal social structures, made most visible in the urban sphere. AUTHOR: Kristen L. McCleary is associate professor of history at James Madison University. Her research explores the intersection between social history and urban culture. She writes about how cultural activities (theater, carnival, film, and music) provide spaces for people to connect and build community, which in turn creates new pathways toward political and social power.
Industry Reviews
Staging Buenos Aires is a well-researched interdisciplinary work that rigorously examines the multiple facets of urban theater, including popular and middle-class plays, space/place of the theater, audiences, and fire safety. With an impressive bibliography, painstaking research of rare materials and 'forgotten histories, ' this book is a must-read for scholars, graduate and advanced undergraduate students of Latin American studies, urban studies, performance studies, and theater historians.--Yovanna Pineda, University of Central Florida
Staging Buenos Aires is a unique look at a city and a nation in transition through the lens of popular entertainments and the controversies they provoked. McCleary captures both the fun of theatergoing and the serious issues at play for the people of Buenos Aires when the curtains were raised. Bravo!--Brian Bockelman, Ripon College

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