“Abject, Delude, Create: The Aesthetic Self-Consciousness of Early Eighteenth-Century Farce.” Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Theatre Research (Volume 25 Issue 1)
Abstract: In the early eighteenth century, farce was a much-maligned form of theater, in part because of its over-indulgence in the corporeal. This essay seeks to re-conceptualize the significance of farce by examining its self-conscious spectacularization of the scene of corporeal violence. Spectacularizing the abjection of the human form, work by authors like Griffin, Carey, Bullock, Johnson, and Hill privileges the body as a site of making and creativity. The farcical trick provides not only an opportunity for physical comedy, but also a performative site that uncannily doubles that of the logic of theatrical performance and spectatorship itself. In this doubled site of play, the abased body of the tricked becomes a sign of the farce being performed, and the trickster, a director orchestrating the trick-as-play. The confusions born of the body and its materiality thus become spectacular sites of creativity, giving value and depth to the kinds of productivity typically perceived as lacking.