Performances by Greg DeningPerformances by Greg Dening


byGreg Dening

Paperback | September 30, 1996

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With elegance and candor, Greg Dening offers a panoramic collection of rich and densely textured essays that demonstrate how we can only understand our present through our consciousness of the past and how in thinking about the past we mirror the time and place of our own living.

For Dening, history saturates every moment of our cultural and personal existence. Yet he is keenly aware that the actual past remains fundamentally irreplicable. All histories are culturally crafted artifacts, commensurate with folk tales, stage plays, or films. Whether derived from logbooks and letters, or displayed on music hall stages and Hollywood back lots, history is in essence our making sense of what has and continues to happen, creating for us a sense of our cultural and individual selves.

Through juxtapositions of actual events and creative reenactments of them—such as the mutiny on the Bounty in 1787 and the various Hollywood films that depict that event—Dening calls attention to the provocative moment of theatricality in history making where histories, cultures, and selves converge. Moving adeptly across varied terrains, from the frontiers of North America to the islands of the South Pacific, Dening marshals a striking array of diverse, often recalcitrant, sources to examine the tangled histories of cross-cultural clash and engagement. Refusing to portray conquest, colonization, and hegemony simply as abstract processes, Dening, in his own culturally reflexive performance, painstakingly evokes the flesh and form of past actors, both celebrated and unsung, whose foregone lives have become our history.

Title:PerformancesFormat:PaperbackDimensions:312 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:September 30, 1996Publisher:University of Chicago Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226142981

ISBN - 13:9780226142982

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Table of Contents

Notes to the Reader
Prelude: Ethnograpy on My Mind
Making a Present out of the Past: History's Anthropology
A Poetric for Histories
Sharks that Walk on the Land
The Face of Battle: Valparaiso, 1814
Presenting the Past: History's Theatre
The Theatricality of History Making and the Paradoxes of Acting
Possessing Tahiti
Hollywood Makes History
Inventing Others
Returning to the Past Its Own Present: History's Empowering Force
Songlines and Seaways
Anzac Day
School at War
Postlude: Soliloquy in San Giacomo

From Our Editors

This book is both more personal and more panoramic than Dening's other books. No one reflects so spiritedly on history and anthropology in and as each other. His gripping essays show Polynesians and Europeans being processed and mangled into theatrical meanings, past and present.