The City and the Stage: Performance, Genre, and Gender in Plato's Laws (Hardback)
  • The City and the Stage: Performance, Genre, and Gender in Plato's Laws (Hardback)
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The City and the Stage: Performance, Genre, and Gender in Plato's Laws (Hardback)

(author)
£56.00
Hardback 400 Pages / Published: 10/12/2015
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What role did the performance of poetry, music, song, and dance play in the political life of the ancient city? How has philosophy positioned itself and articulated its own ambitions in relation to the poet tradition? The Polis and the Stage poses such questions through a reading of Plato last, longest, and unfinished work, the Laws. Plato's engagement with the Greek poetic tradition has long been recognized as foundational in the history of literary criticism, but the broader critical and philosophical significance of the Laws has been largely ignored. Although Plato is often thought hostile to mimetic art, famously banishing poets from the ideal city of the Republic, this book shows that in his final dialogue Plato made a striking about-face, proposing to rehabilitate Athenian performance culture and envisioning a city, in which poetry, music, song, and dance are instrumental in the cultivation of philosophical virtues. The psychological underpinnings of aesthetic experience and the power of mimetic art to predispose a society to specific kinds of constitutions are central themes throughout this study. Plato's views of the performative properties of language and genre receives systematic treatment in this study for the first time. Performance as a mechanism of sexual construction-a network of social practices uniquely suited to communicate and enforce normative conceptions of gender and erotic pleasure-is another focus, with special attention given to positions occupied by women in the culture envisaged in the Laws. As a whole, Marcus Folch's book provides an integrated interpretation of Plato's final dialogue with the Greek poetic tradition, an exploration of the dialectic between philosophy and mimetic art, which will be of interest to anyone concerned with understanding ancient Greek performance and the emergence of philosophical discourse in fourth-century Athens.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780190266172
Number of pages: 400
Weight: 650 g
Dimensions: 246 x 166 x 32 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Folch provides a worthwhile contribution to our understanding of an under-read Platonic dialogue. * Gregory Kirk (Northern Arizona University), Polis, The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought 35 *
The City and the Stage welcomes its readers warmly: the introduction states the author's aims clearly, situates the book in the context of current scholarship, clarifies its methodology and provides a careful overview of the Laws targeted at the non-specialist reader. ... With its sustained focus on performance and illuminating discussion of many elusive problems, to which this brief review cannot do justice, The City and the Stage is a very welcome addition to the recent flowering of studies on the Laws. * Andrea Capra, Greek and Roman Musical Studies *
Folch's is impressive because it demonstrates convincingly the central role Plato would give to musical performance. In particular he shows how it provides the psychological underpinnings for the institutions and practices described in the dialogue. In this way it does much to elucidate what Plato has in mind when he has the Athenian insist that every institution in the city must serve to promote complete virtue among the citizens. * Richard Stalley, The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition *
Folch's book is outstanding, full of original and exciting ideas. This is a major contribution to the field of classical studies. * Andrea Nightingale, Stanford University *
This sophisticated analysis elucidates how Plato's ideal community would transform musical performance into training for citizenship. Working with themes of genre and gender, Folch offers a lucid and stylish examination that relates spectatorship to civic identity, and makes persuasive correlations between aesthetic, ethical and political concerns in Laws. * Judith Fletcher, Wilfrid Laurier University *

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