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Performances [Paperback]

Greg Dening

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Book Description

Sept. 30 1996
With elegance and candor, Greg Dening offers a panoramic collection of rich and densely textured essays that demonstrate how we can only understand our present through our consciousness of the past and how in thinking about the past we mirror the time and place of our own living.

For Dening, history saturates every moment of our cultural and personal existence. Yet he is keenly aware that the actual past remains fundamentally irreplicable. All histories are culturally crafted artifacts, commensurate with folk tales, stage plays, or films. Whether derived from logbooks and letters, or displayed on music hall stages and Hollywood back lots, history is in essence our making sense of what has and continues to happen, creating for us a sense of our cultural and individual selves.

Through juxtapositions of actual events and creative reenactments of them—such as the mutiny on the Bounty in 1787 and the various Hollywood films that depict that event—Dening calls attention to the provocative moment of theatricality in history making where histories, cultures, and selves converge. Moving adeptly across varied terrains, from the frontiers of North America to the islands of the South Pacific, Dening marshals a striking array of diverse, often recalcitrant, sources to examine the tangled histories of cross-cultural clash and engagement. Refusing to portray conquest, colonization, and hegemony simply as abstract processes, Dening, in his own culturally reflexive performance, painstakingly evokes the flesh and form of past actors, both celebrated and unsung, whose foregone lives have become our history.


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THE Prelude, or, Growth of a Poet's Mind was the title of an autobiographical poem by William Wordsworth begun in 1798 when he was twenty-eight years old and finally put aside forty years later. Read the first page
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Buy! April 18 2000
By Mads Clausen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Greg Dening's Performances is a magical book, wide in scope, lucidly written and boldly imagined. Dening's writing is simply a joy to behold, and the central tenets of this work are refreshingly innovative. Although Dening's scholarship and the work in question both concentrate on Pacific history, this book remains crucial to anyone interested in the workings of historiography and the construction of (national) identities. The best recommendation of Dening's work might thus be its capacity to open new perspectives on areas quite unrelated to his field of work.

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