Discussions of eroticism usually commence with references to Georges Bataille and his L’Erotisme, whose first English edition was published under the title Death and Sensuality: A Study of Eroticism and the Taboo (1962), thus encouraging analyses in terms of transgression. This article opens with a quotation from Zygmunt Bauman’s essay, “On Postmodern Uses of Sex,” which reflects on the instability of the concept and emphasizes its contextualization. This openly declared incongruity raises questions of applicability. What is meant by eroticism today, i.e. in and after postmodernism? The article seeks to explore the relevance of the term in studies of urban drama and tries to suggest a workable approach that would differentiate between the commonly observable erotic material found on display within the premises of the city and the eroticism of the city itself. In the latter case the erotic relationship involves the materiality of the urban context and its user. The essay, focusing on drama, assumes that plays are written for the stage-their proper mode of existence-and deems it necessary to include the city/theatre and city/drama interdependence as well as the nexus of concepts such as urban drama and its genre restrictions into the following analysis.
This article analyzes the shift from emotion to affect in Caryl Churchill’s writing for the theatre, a process which becomes prominent in the later seventies and culminates in the production of A Mouthful of Birds, a project designed jointly with the choreographer David Lan. The effects of the transformation remain traceable in The Skriker, a complex play taking several years to complete. It is argued that there is a tangible and logical correlation between Churchill’s dismantling of the representational apparatus associated with the tradition of institutional theatre—a process which involves, primarily, a dissolution of its artificially constructed, docile bodies into orificial ones—and her withdrawal from the use of emotional expression in favour of the affective. In the following examination, emotions are conceived as interpretative acts modelled on cognition and mediated through representations while the intensity of affect remains unstructured. Often revealed through violence, pain and suffering, affect enables the theatre to venture into the pre-cognitive and thus beyond the tradition of liberal subject formation.