A Posthumanist Perspective on Cultural Industry Representations in Selected Plays by Sam Shepard

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Since theatre is often termed a “hypermedium” – i.e. possessing the ability to combine a sheer number of signifying systems (Collard 2018: 5), this study elucidates how spectators form an interpretation out of the, sometimes, contrasting information they are presented with onstage. For that purpose, a posthumanist approach is adopted to evaluate how audiences proceed to interpret cultural industry representations in selected plays by American dramatist Sam Shepard (1943 – 2017). The thesis combines posthumanist philosophy with insights from the cognitive sciences to acquire an as broad as possible view on how human beings mentally cope with ever-new situations in a theatrical context. Four plays that each reflect a distinct ‘phase’ of Shepard’s oeuvre, and different aspects of the culture industry are subjected to such a posthumanist-cognitive methodology by analysing how they give expression to the concepts ‘embodiment’ and ‘recursion’, respectively. In doing so, it is verified if and how dramatic art could incite critical reflection about real-life cultural industry phenomena.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorChristophe Collard (Promotor)

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