Modernist Subjects’ Transition into Postmodernist Ones in Modern Plays: A Selective Study of Krapp’s Last Tape, Buried Child, and Travesties

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of English Language and Literature, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


The present study identifies the features of postmodern subject in Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape (1958), Sam Shepard’s Buried Child (1978), and Tom Stoppard’s Travesties. These three plays beautifully showcase the sense of belonging and non-belonging of modernist subjects toward essentialism, and that is how such subjects moves toward postmodernism’s belief on lack of commitment to neither absolute belonging nor non-belonging. Dislocated memories, textual and constructed nature of memories, schizophrenic characters, and their inclusive belonging to discursive oppositional points of binaries are the features around which the study will pursue its discussions. While discussing these features, the study utilizes critical insights proposed by two key figures in literary theory and criticism: Linda Hutcheon when it comes to postmodernism in A Poetics of Postmodernism (1988) and Politics of Postmodernism (1989), and Nick Mansfield when one wishes to discuss the issue of subjectivity in Subjectivity: Theories of the Self from Freud to Haraway (2000). Amir Ali Nojoumian’s A Brief Introduction to Modernism in Literature and A Brief Introduction to Postmodernism in Literature would be utilized to enrich study’s take from modernism and postmodernism too. Absence of even an abstract unified understanding of the past, the uneasy and hectic juxtaposition and superimposition of a series of contradictory narratives out of the past experiences of schizophrenic subjects, and lack of belonging to – or inclusive belonging to – either sides of binaries are the key titles of the study’s findings while it reviews the transitional status of the subjectivity of the plays’ characters.


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