June 19, 2018
Cyrus Amiri

Cyrus Amiri

Academic rank: Assistant professor
Address: English Department / Faculty of Forign Languages and Literatures / Sanandaj 66177-15175 / Iran.
Education: PhD. in English Language and Literature
Faculty: Faculty of Literature and Foreign Languages


Scenes from History: Dramatic Emplotment in Howard Barker's Selected Historical Plays
Type Thesis
history, metahistory, historical play, dramatic emplotment, theater of catastrophe, tragedy
Researchers Elaheh Heidari، Cyrus Amiri، Zakarya Bezdoode


The present dissertation seeks to closely read and critically investigate Howard Barker's Scenes from an Execution, The Castle and Victory in terms of Hayden White's notions of history as narrative and emplotment. Critical assessments of Barker's plays make frequent mentions of his modern literary strategies and his active engagement with historical issues. His emphasis on the form of the plays devotes little attention to the history of the story on which each play is based, since he is interested in imagining history rather than reflecting it as it is. Thus, in the process of dramatizing the historical events of his plays, he invents some events or characters to create his own version of them. His aim is to emplot history via different modes of explanation such as tragedy, comedy, satire, epic, and irony. Barker brings his approach alongside those of postmodern philosophers such as Hayden White. White suggests that it is possible to have different versions of what happened through emplotment. Therefore, in this way, there is always the challenge and uncertainty for what has exactly happened when representing it by dramatic emplotment. White's view on historical representation is in line with Barker's ways of representing history in his historical plays. Barker is known for his theatre of Catastrophe in which the moment of beauty is the moment of collapse of moral certitudes. Barker's selected plays are considered as history plays. In each of them, historical events and historical characters are taken into account. He himself, by displaying scenes or dialogues rooted in the mind, leaves no place for one who proclaims clarity.