February 18, 2014 — Elizabeth Wiet

Minor Maximalisms: Theater and the American Novel Since 1960

What would it mean to disentangle American experimental theater from historical narratives of twentieth-century music, visual art, and poetry, and to re-entangle it with the history of twentieth-century fiction?  In my dissertation, I explore the confluences of experimental theater and experimental fiction in the United States from 1960 to the present by tracking their mutual use of a “maximalist” aesthetic. Given its interest in historicity, publicity, and various forms of play, I argue that the aesthetic dimensions of the maximalist novel are acutely theatrical—and it is for this reason that maximalism provides a particularly crucial point of entrance into the intersections between these two forms. Though each chapter of my dissertation draws on the work of a number of different artists, they are structured around the pairing of one theater artist with one novelist: in the first chapter, Thomas Pynchon and Jack Smith; in the second, William Gaddis and Robert Wilson; in the third, Kathy Acker and Laurie Anderson; in the fourth, David Foster Wallace and The Nature Theater of Oklahoma.

**Join us Tuesday from 1-2 p.m. in room 202 of 220 York. A light, catered lunch will be provided.**

Elizabeth Wiet is a third-year PhD student in the department of English at Yale University.