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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Proximal and Reminiscent Nostalgias: Queer Potentiality in Postwar Japan and the Post-Method American Theatre

  • Author(s): Reimer, Jonathan Charles
  • Advisor(s): Roxworthy, Emily
  • et al.

Proceeding from different conceptualizations of nostalgia in Japan and the United States, this dissertation argues for the need to expand definition of nostalgia and the potential for conversation in performance studies around multiple nostalgias as analytical and pedagogical tools. In Japanese, there are various ways of writing and saying words that translate in English to nostalgia. In English, on the other hand, the term nostalgia alone covers an expansive array of emotional relationalities with the past, conceptually unified by how perceptions of time-space interact with memory and emotionality. Given the multiplicity of time-spaces that theoretically exist, however, as well as the mind’s ability to cognitively conceptualize multiple time-spaces and memories based on perspective, framing nostalgia in different ways appears both possible and necessary. Expanding current available terminology regarding nostalgia around the relationality of past memories to multiple time-space perceptions, particularly in the realm of performance, produces two directionally opposed forms of nostalgia: proximal and reminiscent. Beginning with historical case studies centered in postwar Japan and working up to the present day, each chapter examines the ontology of nostalgia in relation to various examples of performance to illuminate how dividing nostalgic phenomenology into these two separate categories offers an expanded epistemological understanding of how performance relates to time-space. In Chapter 1, Robin Bernstein’s scriptive things are used to contextualize the performativity of nostalgic objects within postwar Japan. Chapter 2 looks at photographs of Yukio Mishima as attempts to recontextualize the political standing of Japan after Allied Occupation. Chapter 3 draws parallels between Japanese performance theories and post-Method American acting pedagogy via the queer time-space of nostalgia toward the development of queer spirit and conversatiation. Lastly, Chapter 4 looks to contemporary play texts as dramaturgical opportunities for generating queer spirit in theatrical spatio-temporality. Together, these case studies open doors for nuanced examination of memory, emotions, and queer time-space and how they can play a significant role in performance making. By doing so, this new nostalgia-centric theory promotes future-focused queer time-space as an optimal state of aesthetic representation and potentiality.

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