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By Andrew Parker

From the age of Aristotle to the age of AIDS, writers, thinkers, performers and activists have wresteled with what "performance" is all approximately. on the comparable second, "performativity"--a new proposal in language theory--has develop into a ubiquitous time period in literary experiences. This quantity grapples with the character of those key words whose lines are available far and wide: within the theatre, within the streets, in philosophy, in questions of race and gender, and within the sentences we communicate.

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The list of explanations for this devalued status is long Smith argues In part because 01 a culturally dominant Puritan distaste lor and suspicion 01 the theatre. in part bmuse 01 a persistent. unwavering allegiance to European models, 6~ 66 SANDRA L. RICHARDS slavish Anglophilia, and a predilection for heightened language cemented by the New Critics. in part because of a suspicion of populist. leftist, and realist arto and in part because of the dominance of prose and poetry in the hierarchy of genres studied in university literature ceurses.

Betterton, paragon of Anglo Ol·ature, vessel of its collective memory, thus doubles Shakespeare in Steele's vision of "forming a Free-born people," but he does so wearing blackface,just as Thomas jefferson did it in war paint, and Lord Olivier more recently played it in drago In circum-Atlantic terms, canon formation in European culture parallels the spiritual principIe to which bell hooks, in her essay on "Black Indians," attributes the deep affinity of African and Native American peoples: "that the dead stay among us sO that we wil!

She. "2S Acerbic humor, obviollSly, was not the only technique in the reper­ toire of blu es singers, for as Daphne Duval Harrison \\rrites retro­ spectively abo ut Ma Rainey, Rainey sometimes took everyday situations and created an outrageously lunny pie· ture. Afine example is "Those Dogs 01 Mine," a mournlul, draggy blues about the aching corns on her lee!. Every line is so lunny that one can just see this fat woman tiptoeing ever so carelully to avoid another twing~ 01 pain. "29 Furthermore, G ennari notes that formlll ating and writing analytic accounts of jazz are hampered by the fact that "the most fundamen­ tal and enduring article of faith in jazz ...

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