Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht; was a German poet, playwright, and theatre Bertolt Brecht was born in Augsburg, Bavaria, (about 50 miles (80 km) north-. Life of Galileo. (). By Bertolt Brecht. Digitalized by. RevSocialist for. SocialistStories. Page 2. Page 3. Page 4. Page 5. Page 6. Page 7. Page 8. Page 9. Mother Courage and Her Children. () by Bertolt Brecht. Digitalized by. RevSocialist for. SocialistStories. Page 2. Page 3. Page 4. Page 5. Page 6. Page 7.
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Bertolt Brecht EPIC THEATRE using. Verfremdungseffekt. (AKA the V -effect, Making strange, Distancing, Alienation). “The actor is not Lear. PDF | On Apr 1, , Barry Mauer and others published Bertolt Brecht's Dramatic Structure. Publisher's aclcnowkdgment; We are grateful to Stefan S. Brecht and Eyre Methuen Ltd for their kind permission to reproduce the poems by Bertolt Brecht.
Although Oesmann may have weakness in the aforementioned points in her work, she along with Jameson and Barthes represent an important step forward in the exposition of Brecht's thought. First, it illustrates the advantages of an interdisciplinary analysis of Brecht and artists in general. Perhaps what seems most natural of all to us is the way we earn a living. Brecht was a voracious reader and seemed to draw from many different sources. See Haug and Brecht's Narrative Aesthetics Inhis accounts of epic theatre24, Brecht contrasts it with what he refers to as 'dramatic theatre,' or the theatrical style described by Aristotle in his Poetics.
I see several advantages to conducting philosophical research on literary figures. Since literature is generally less esoteric than scholarly writings, it allows for a wider discourse to develop. For example, psychological, economic, social, political, moralistic, ethical, epistemological and ontological themes are often expressed in a single work or are dealt with during the course of a literary career.
This is unlikely to be the case in more esoteric works.
Furthermore, Brecht seems an especially likely candidate to elicit a wide discourse. Not only do his literary works explore the aforementioned themes and more; Brecht was also many things besides a playwright and poet. Since Brecht was all of these things and stands at the cross section of so many disciplines, through him we are able to bring together diverse discourses in ways we otherwise would not be able to. The present work, for example, brings together work in social psychology, the sociology of knowledge, sociology and political science, aesthetic theory, political and social philosophy, epistemology, etc.
Furthermore, it is fair to ask what we get as scholars and philosophers from Brecht that we do not get from others like Benjamin or Adorno or anyone else. While certainly Brecht was close in many aspects of his thinking to the Frankfurt school, especially Benjamin, I offer two answers. First, Brecht presented a complex and thoroughly developed Marxian philosophy of praxis. His theatre was a large-scale social experiment which sought to facilitate the advent of radical political and social change.
It was also an experiment that was constantly adapting for the sake of greater effectiveness and one which extended throughout society—reaching the workers themselves. Second, I believe Brecht was unrivaled in his ability to portray social contradiction in a realistic and accessible way. While of course, other critical theorists expose social contradictions, they are able to do this only by abstracting them. That is, they are able to do so only by means of rationalization, in that they interpret from a rational standpoint and present the abstracted interpretation.
Brecht, on the other hand, does not abstract. Quite simply he exposes, demonstrates, shows, etc. For Brecht the idea is to bring about a new way of thinking, understanding and interpreting the world. In a word, the goal is to alter consciousness. What Brecht attempted was to provide a new way of thinking so that people would come to new conclusions. This was done in two ways: Overview This work will be organized around the central thesis that a coherent social and political philosophy can be reconstructed from Brecht's thought and works.
While the dissertation maintains this overarching thesis, each chapter will contain its own thesis and support for these individual theses. Furthermore, efforts will be taken to demonstrate the way these elements connect to each other, which will in turn serve as evidence in support of the master thesis. The next chapter will contain a discussion of Brecht's ethics. Specifically, it will be argued that Brecht had a fundamental ethical concern for the suffering and injustice found in bourgeois society.
This concern formed the ethical imperative for his epic theatre.
Furthermore, it will be argued that Brecht designed epic theatre to alter the Weltanschauung or worldview of the audience and that Brecht's ethical imperative was then to alter the worldview of the audience. This was done in an effort to create the necessary conditions for human emancipation. In this, praxis is an essential element of Brecht's philosophy. Therefore, Chapter 2 will also argue that Brecht's thought constitutes a Marxian philosophy of praxis and the specifics of his praxis-theory will be outlined in order to demonstrate that the entire project of epic theatre was deeply rooted in Brecht's ethical concern for human emancipation.
In Chapter 2, it will be asserted that Brecht sought to alter the Weltanschauung of his audience through two distinct but inter-related ways—cognitive disruption and the demonstration of social contradiction. Chapter 3 will discuss the notion of cognitive disruption in Brecht's work. This, in effect, constitutes an alteration of a particular type of time that Zerubavel refers to as 'socio-temporal order'. Chapter 3 will demonstrate that Brecht's manipulation of socio-temporal order is likely to serve the purpose of cognitive disruption.
Chapter 4 will explore the second way Brecht attempted to alter worldview— his demonstration of social contradictions. Particularly, the chapter will investigate the role Brecht's notion of gestus played in demonstrating social contradictions and the role Brecht thought the signification of these social contradictions played in changing consciousness.
In order to do this, we will first reconstruct Brecht's notions of the nature of ideology and its relation to language.
Since Brecht's ideas in this area are contained primarily in a fragmentary form, this will be accomplished by demonstrating the similarities between Brecht's ideas and those of Gramsci and Barthes who developed more thoroughly articulated theoretical frameworks. It will be shown that, like Gramsci and Barthes, Brecht conceived of a dominant ideology which: It will also be shown how Brecht attempts to overcome this type of ideology through his portrayal of social antagonism.
Both Sartre and Barthes stress the importance of Brecht's disrupting the myth of unity through the demonstration of contradictions. This, it will be argued, is similar to a process of what we can define as phenomenological reduction.
This phenomenological reduction serves two functions according to Brecht's philosophy. The first is to strip away the dominant ideology and the second is to begin to replace that ideology with the material dialectical Weltanschauung of Marx.
Chapter 5 will illustrate Brecht's challenge to the totalized, unified reality presented by bourgeois ideology. In this chapter, we will examine a specific example of Brecht's depictions of contradiction present in bourgeois society. Particularly we will look at a pathology Brecht saw in bourgeois society—the dialectical antagonism of the self.
In Chapter 6, an analysis of Life ofGalileo will be presented. Through this analysis we will see that Brecht's attempts to disrupt one's worldview were founded on the idea of creating what he considered to be a Cartesian form of doubt in his audience which would call into question the validity of the inherited, uncritically accepted worldview. Brecht saw this as the impulse at the heart of the bourgeoisie's emancipation and believed this would serve as the basis for the emancipation of the working class.
However, we will also find that doubt in one's Weltanschauung is not enough to move one from the realm of ideology and confusion. For Brecht, one also needs to have and employ the proper tools of perception, i. From this analysis, it will be demonstrated that Brecht envisions the state apparatus as a repressive force protecting the hegemony of the dominant class ideology.
However, it will also be shown that maintaining the dominant Weltanschauung is not solely a function of the state apparatus, for Brecht. Individuals may align themselves with the interests of the state and ruling classes believing they are acting toward the interests of the subaltern classes. This will be seen in Brecht's depiction of a pragmatic call to suppress truth in order to prevent existential anxiety in the masses.
In our analysis of Galileo, we also see that Brecht believed Galileo's recantation was emblematic of a larger failing of the bourgeois mindset. Specifically it will be argued that Brecht believed Galileo's recantation prevented truth and science from aspiring toward universal interests. Because Galileo refused to demand that science be used toward universal emancipation, its use toward particular ends and the continued suffering of the masses which that entailed could continue with impunity.
Finally, our study of Galileo will reveal several important characteristics of Brecht's historical materialism. For example it will be shown that Brecht saw the emerging bourgeoisie as possessing the notion that science and truth could be used toward their ends and that the hegemonic class employs violence, administered through the state apparatus, in defense of the existing order.
An analysis of his adaptation of Coriolanus will demonstrate his belief in 'dominant' and 'secondary' contradictions within a process of historical development—an idea Brecht appropriated from Mao. This chapter will augment what the previous chapters reveal about Brecht's historical materialism. For example, in Chapter 5, we will see that Brecht demonstrates the manifestation of a particular contradiction that of the self , within a particular historical period, in The Good Woman.
Similarly, in Chapter 6, our analysis of Galileo will reveal Brecht's depiction of the playing out of the class antagonism between the princely and clerical classes and the emerging bourgeois. In Chapter 7, we will see how two particular contradictions in historical development can relate to each other.
Specifically, we will see that for Brecht within the process of historical progression different contradictions can take precedence over others at different moments. As with the analysis of The Good Woman and Galileo this chapter will expose Brecht's belief in a particular philosophical position.
Moreover, perhaps more importantly, it will demonstrate Brecht's ability to portray social contradictions and the playing out of historical materialism in his work. In the conclusion, Chapter 8, the main arguments of this dissertation will be summarized and the single theoretical framework this work attempts to create will be reiterated in concise form. Furthermore, a preliminary critique of Brecht's social and political philosophy will be offered along with ideas for future research.
Finally the concluding discussion will attempt to address the relevancy of Brecht's thought today by answering the question: I came among men in a time of revolt And I rebelled with them. Flowever, for Brecht these roles were not disparate. While doing them, he was directing the world toward a new social order and attempting to facilitate the advent ofuniversal human emancipation Brecht's whole professional life and much of his private life as well was devoted to ending social antagonism and the emancipation of humanity from material suffering.
However, in his plays, especially The Good Woman, Puntila and Saint Joan he seems to envision it as both freedom from material suffering and exploitation. Brecht is less vague on his definition of exploitation. We can see from discussions like those in Puntila and The Threepenny Novel that he sees this as the expropriation of surplus value from the worker.
For example, in Puntila, Brecht has one of the characters say, "schoolbooks But the thing on which we expend it does not belong to us" Brecht, , p. In essence, Brecht believes that the proletariat is not allowed to enjoy all the fruits of their labor. Instead they are forced to surrender portions of the value of their production to the bourgeoisie. One difficulty of Brecht's work is locating an ethics in it.
His epic theatre was not interested in moralizing. True, Brecht himself referred many times to the instructive nature of epic theatre; but, Brecht never intended epic theatre to instruct its audience in moral behavior. As Brecht himself says, "[m]any people Yet moral utterances were secondary in epic theatre.
This is not to suggest that there was no ethical imperative to the epic theatre, though. Instead of presenting moralistic arguments, Brecht designed epic theatre to alter the Weltanschauung of the audience. This constituted the ethical imperative of his theatre. This was critical for Brecht because by altering the audiences' Weltanschauung he was trying to create the necessary conditions for human emancipation.
Epic theatre, then, was ethical not in its text but in its agenda i. In this way, we can say that Brecht's ethic was an ethic of praxis in the Marxian sense. This chapter seeks to draw Brecht's aesthetic theory into the larger discourse of Marxian praxis philosophy and social and political philosophy more broadly. In it, I will argue that Brecht's thought constitutes a Marxian philosophy of praxisand outline the specifics of his praxis-theory in order to demonstrate that the entire project of epic theatre was deeply rooted in Brecht's ethical concern for human emancipation.
They are philosophies where Marxian theory directs one's actions. That is, Marxian philosophies of praxis are philosophies where progressive i. Specifically, Marxian philosophies of praxis posit some form of action as being necessary for the fulfillment of the theory.
They stress the necessity for some action to occur in order to ensure that the predictions of the theory come to fruition. As Haug points out, the concept of Marxian praxis-theory can be traced back to Marx himself. In its simplest form it is found in the often quoted "Theses on Feuerbach" where Marx states that "philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways, the point, however, is to change it" Marx and Engels, , p.
Although this work was not published during Marx's lifetime it nevertheless became an influential aspect of Marx's thought for twentieth century Marxists. This influence was evident in Italian Marxism.
Antonio Labriola, for example, was the first to use the term "philosophy of praxis" calling it the "nucleus of Historical Materialism" Haug, , p. It was elaborated by Antonio Gramsci who advocated for counter-hegemonic action intended to destroy the so called 'common sense' understanding of subaltern social groups.
Both are meant to imply an uncritical acceptance of mechanisms of truth production which are dominated by the bourgeoisie. That is, both thinkers see reality being constructed in bourgeois society with particular biases that reinforce the i n domination of the bourgeoisie. Although largely developed independently of the Italian versions, Marxian praxis-theory was also influential in Germany, most notably in the work that came out of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, to which Brecht's friend and intellectual companion Walter Benjamin was associated.
While there are differences between the Italian and German formulations of Marxian praxis-theory as well as differences within the two schools, all formulations maintain some common elements.
For example, they all adopt, in some form, Marx's dialectical epistemology and theory of historical progression i. In short, Marx's theory of historical progression posits that history advances when the contradictions inherent within a particular mode of production are reconciled.
These contradictions manifest, materially, in the form of antagonistic social forces between the producers of wealth the exploited and those who get to enjoy it the exploiter. However, according to Brecht's interpretation of Marx see The Threepenny Lawsuit in BFR , the reconciliation of these antagonisms cannot happen until certain conditions are met.
Particularly, this reconciliation cannot occur until the exploited class becomes conscious of their social position and the exploitation that it entails. For reasons 17 Wolfgang Fritz Haug illustrates this point as well as other similarities between Brecht's Marxian praxis-theory and that of Gramsci.
See Haug and The development of this so-called 'class consciousness' is the first and an essential condition that needs to be met before world historical progress can happen. So, for example, in bourgeois society, historical progress canonly be achieved when the proletariat realizes it is an exploited social class. Only then can they act as a unified progressive force. Helping the proletariat achieve their class consciousness and thus become a progressive social force is the first task of the Marxian praxis-theorist.
This task also forms the basic driving principle behind Brecht's epic theatre and his ethical imperative. They are mastered by exposing them. To Brecht, in order to expose these difficulties one must first be able to depict the empirical realities of the present day.
Once these realities are understood, once one understands the social environment, one can begin to alter social relations or the relations of social forces. Brecht argues that as history progresses, new social relationships are created and it is thejob of the artist to depict these new relationships. This understanding is what he had in mind when he says, for example, that "art follows reality" BT, p. Reality springs from the social superstructure which is in turn determined by the mode of production.
In essence, the mode of production creates the conditions of what we canrefer to as the material life-world, i. Changes in the mode of production create new material conditions. Art, then, depicts these new conditions and relationships. However, according to Brecht the depiction of the new relationships that were created by the advent of the capitalistic mode of production is not possible in bourgeois forms of art.
He offers two interrelated reasons for this. First, bourgeois art is unscientific. That is, it does not incorporate what Brecht believed to be the major advancement in the science of human relations, dialectical materialism. He says, for example, that representations in theatre, "cannot work out satisfactorily without knowledge of dialectics—and without making dialectics known" BT, p.
Bourgeois theatre is conspicuously lacking this, according to Brecht. Furthermore, he argues that the reason science is lacking in bourgeois art is that "[t]he bourgeois class..
According to Brecht, [t]he reason why the new way of thinking and feeling [i. In Brecht's mind, the bourgeoisie have a vested interest in keeping this type of science out of the theatre. Dialectical materialism will demonstrate to the workers the realities of their social position, particularly their exploitation. It will show them that their labor is producing wealth that they are unable to enjoy.
While he is not direct about the actual mechanisms the bourgeoisie are using, Brecht argues that the bourgeoisie have suppressed dialectical materialism in art to protect their own interests. In Brecht's understanding, then, they have also suppressed the social truth which can only be divined through that particular Weltanschauung. Brecht's understanding of dialectical materialism is that of a specific epistemology that is both essentialist and rationalistic. By essentialist I mean that it seeks a unified, objective truth.
That is, it seeks to divine the essential, necessary and undeniable characteristics of the object being investigated. As a rationalistic epistemology, truth is to be found by understanding the essence of philosophical or scientific inquiry.
In other words, rationalists believe that they have the correct, essential way of viewing the world. This then allows them to see the world in its essential nature i. If one is unable to see the world through the material dialectical Weltanschauung, they are unable to see true reality according to Brecht. It is for these reasons Brecht argues for the abandonment of bourgeois forms of art. According to Brecht, they are unable to depict truth because of its lack of proper science and therefore depict untruths.
These unrealistic depictions presented in bourgeois art have negative effects on the proletariat. For example, Brecht refers to bourgeois theatre as producing "hypnosis [and] sordid intoxication" BT, p. He also states that bourgeois or what he also defines as 'dramatic theatre' has turned people "into a cowed, credulous, hypnotized mass" BT, p. Though not articulated in these words, Brecht is saying that bourgeois theatre creates and reinforces an uncritical Weltanschauung, a worldview which is not self-critical and unable to provide a meta-critique of itself.
Since the Weltanschauung cannot critique itself, empirical illusions have no way of being exposed as such. They are uncritically accepted as reality and thus the possibility of their change is eliminated. This phenomenon makes Brecht very critical of bourgeois art. He believes it discourages the material conditions necessary for class conflict to be reconciled and thus retards the progress towards his social ideal of human emancipation. Brecht discusses this uncritical worldview in his "A Short Organum for the Theatre.
A child, living in a world of old men, learns how things work there. He knows the run of things before he can walk. If anyone is bold enough to want something further, he only wants to have it as an exception. Many of us.. Countless people approach great wars like earthquakes, as if instead of human beings natural forces lay behind them against with the human race is powerless.
Perhaps what seems most natural of all to us is the way we earn a living. MD, p. They internalize the common, accepted manner of truth production and the truths produced through that manner without considering the possibility an alternate manner of truth production could exist. In other words, they uncritically accept the dominant Weltanschauung and all their understandings of their environment i. Bourgeois theatre then reinforces this uncritical Weltanschauung.
Since bourgeois theatre is presented in the bourgeois Weltanschauung, it depicts life in a way which prevents the working class from seeing that the conditions they live under are mutable. In the bourgeois Weltanschauung, human nature is seen as something thatprevents the possibility of change. It intones Hobbes' essentialistic i. If one accepts the bourgeois Weltanschauung's view of human nature then they will also see social antagonism as being immutable and reconciliation of social antagonism as being impossible.
Moreover, bourgeois theatre also obstructs the proletariat's ability to see the position of their class in historical terms. That is, they are unable to see that their class is a progressive force. In short, what Brechtsees as the bourgeoisie's perverse portrayal of reality stands as an obstacle to proletarian class consciousness. Since bourgeois art is coupled with so many impediments to proletariat class consciousness, innovations in art are necessary if art is to help advance the progressive cause of human emancipation.
The existing forms could not be used, according to Brecht. He states, for example, "[I]t is not at all our job to renovate ideological institutions on the basis of the existing social order by means of innovations.
Instead our innovations must force them to surrender that basis. For innovations, against renovations" [sic] BT, p. As was highlighted earlier, Brecht clearly saw bourgeois art as being too entrenched in the reproduction of bourgeois hegemony. Therefore, if he was going to use art for the progressive social cause of proletarian and human emancipation, he needed to be innovative.
Brecht developed epic theatre to change the consciousness of the proletariat. This required changing the epistemic center or the particular epistemological orientation one uses to validate their claims of truth.
Dialectical materialism is a unique epistemology That is, the dialectician has a fundamentally unique way of understanding, interpreting and validating the conceptions of the world around them. For example, the material dialectical epistemology assumes everything as interrelated and interacting with everything else.
To the dialectician, nothing exists in isolation. There is a definite and specific intercoimection between all things and processes according to dialectical materialism. Furthermore, dialecticians assume contradictions to be universally present or existent in all things.
That is, contradictions exist in every process and object. The struggle between contradictory aspects of a thing determines the essence and development of that thing. Although contradictory aspects are in conflict, they are also interdependent.
To illustrate, one could look at the example of a war which is comprised of the conflicting forces of offence and defense.
Offence and defense are the two contradictory elements by which a war is comprised. They form its essence 19 This discussion of material dialectics is especially indebted to Mao who provides a clear and concise explanation.
As we will see belowand in Chapter 4, Brecht conceives of objects and processes as having a historically determined but alterable, and changing essence.
The immutable essence would be that it is constantly developing and in flux. Moreover, it is impossible to have one without the other. There is a unity of opposites. Without offense, there can be no defense and while anoffensive action may occur without a responding defensive action, it is simply an aggressive action not a war. These two contradicting forces in war—offense and defense—drive the development forward toward a conclusion or in dialectical terms a 'reconciliation.
That is, they persist until the old unity offense and defense yields to a new unity e. Just as war contains a specific contradiction so too does every other process or object. The particular contradiction of a process or a thing constitutes the essence which distinguishes one thing from another. In order to reveal the essence of a process or a thing, one must understand the particularities of the contradiction.
One needs to know the essence of both sides of the contradiction and the stage of development of that contradiction. This is the only way to understand the totality of what one is studying and thus the only way to understand reality. Dialectical materialism is a different way of viewing the world than most people, at least in bourgeois society, view it.
For example, most in bourgeois society do not hold the assumption of a unity of opposites as does the dialectician. However, according to Brecht, it is the only Weltanschauung by which one can divine reality or truth. Brecht's quote above about dialectical materialism being the only possible aid to orientation illustrates this point as do other statements like: Journals, p. The question then becomes for Brecht "How does one move someone out of this sort of Platonic cave of illusion into the world of reality?
Epic theatre was an experiment in this. It attempted to convert people to the material dialectical Weltanschauung and guide them out of their world of illusion, their false consciousness. In Brecht's theory of epic theatre, this process entails two things. First, the viewer is given clear presentations of the contradictions of bourgeois society. This will be considered in-depth in Chapter 4. The second part in this process of conversion, for Brechtwas to show the present reality in ways which make it seem unnatural and impermanent.
This was crucial according to Brecht's thought and is explored more deeply in Chapter 3. His epic theatre needed to demonstrate that the present reality was not immutable. He wanted epic theatre to demonstrate to the audience that things can change, that conditions are not unalterable by nature.
To Brecht, the present reality is historically determined. The social relations that exist in a particular period are determined by the particular mode of production found in that particular period. Brecht states, "social existence is continually developing" MD, p. Thus, Brecht's social ontology is one of constant flux. He did not believe social relations can be permanently defined by any fixed traits.
They are dependent on the mode of production in society and thus impermanent and transforming. Brecht states, for example, "we must leave [different historical social structures] their distinguishing marks and keep their impermanence always before our eyes, so that our ownperiod can be seen to be impermanent too" BT, p.
The reason that demonstrating the impermanence of present conditions is so critical, for Brecht, is that if the workers thought that their efforts to alter their conditions were Sisyphean, they would not bother trying to change them. For Brecht, "[l]earning means something very different to people in different strata of society [i.
Brecht stresses the impermanence of social conditions. However, not only does he stress that social conditions can change; he also tries to demonstrate the human role in creating those conditions. He states, "[man] does not have to stay the way he is now, nor does he have to be seen only as he is now, but also as he might become" BT, p. But he further states that historical conditions "are created and maintained by men and will in due course be altered by them " BT, p.
In life too we develop one another" BT, p. Once conditions are no longer seen as natural, permanent, unalterable realities and are seen instead as relative, mutable and temporary, the audiences' reaction to seeing them portrayed changes, according to Brecht. The way people view suffering will change. No longer will they view suffering as a regrettable but fixed fact of life. They will see it as something which can and should be done away with. The goal of epic theatre for Brecht was to make theatre where: Nothing permitted the audience any more to lose itself through simple empathy, uncritically..
The presentation exposed the subject matter and the happenings to a process of de- familiarization. De-familiarization was required to make things understood. When things are 'self-evident,' understanding is simply dispensed with. The 'natural' had to be given an element of the conspicuous. Only in this way could the laws of cause and effect become plain. De-familiarization then meant the de-familiarization of the bourgeois Weltanschauung. According to Brecht, "[a] representation that [estranges] is one which allows us to recognize its subject, but at the same time makes it seem unfamiliar" BT, p.
That is, estrangement effects are designed to knock the spectator off balance cognitively and thus alter their perception of what they are seeing.
They are attempts at creating a cognitive change where the granted is no longer taken for granted. Brecht's estrangement effects are meant to estrange the spectator from their present reality.
With them Brecht tries to cause unease or questionability in the validity of that reality. Common examples of 'estrangement' effects used by Brecht are the use of projections and recordings, various lighting effects, loudspeaker commentary, the use of written text and special acting techniques. Brecht experimented by altering the relation of music to dance, to dialogue, to gestus, etc. By doing so he tried to deconstruct the relationship between them.
He takes apart the pieces the music, gestus, dialogue, etc , 21 Brecht provides a good illustration of what these effects would look like in practice when he discusses lighting, for example. He states, "brilliant illumination of the stage For more on Brecht's estrangement effects see: Furthermore, Brecht sometimes provides accounts of the various estrangement effects attempted in his productions.
These can be found in Brecht's notes to some plays e. Thus, the expected can no longer be expected. Epic theatre also estranges the spectators by altering their relation to time. As will be explored in the next chapter, Brecht's epic theatre breaks the continuity of time. InBrecht's epic theatre he deconstructs time. That is, he breaks it apart to analyze it part by part, period by period, contradiction by contradiction.
He shows the viewer the forces at play in each fragment. What he attempts to show is that these forces are both material i. This can only happen when time is broken into its component parts, according to Brecht. Just as a physicist studies the component parts of an atom e. In epic theatre, Brecht breaks history down into its component parts to demonstrate that there is a logic to how it progresses. Epic theatre in this regard is supposed to be a scientific lesson in history.
It is supposed to demonstrate how social relations are determined by the particular mode ofproduction in society. Ifpeople understood this, according to Brecht's thought, they would also see that a change in the mode of production will cause a change in social relations. Those desiring change were working with, not against the laws of nature, according to Brecht.
That is, the proletarian revolution was the next step in world historical progression. Brecht and epic theatre were just trying to help that process along to end the current suffering. Brecht states that "all history is a mere construction" Journals, p. Epic theatre deconstructs that 'mere construction'. It demonstrates its relativity and thus opens the doors to creating a better construction, a better social alternative—one with more favorable social relations.
According to Brecht, estrangement effects also need to have an experimental quality. He states, "[t]he new school ofplay-writing must systematically see to it that its form includes 'experiment'" BT, p. If effects did not work, they needed to be changed or altered. In Brecht's mind, praxis modifies theory and theory modifies praxis BFR, p. Theory and praxis were intertwined. Theory and praxis exist together as a dialectical unity. They are the dialectical elements of historical progress.
They are the antagonistic elements that comprise historical progress. But, according to Brecht's thought history is still progressing and this contradiction has not been reconciled. Theory does not square with the empirics of praxis and the empirics ofpraxis do not square with the expectations of the theory. What Brecht wanted to do, then, was alter the relation theory had to praxis.
For Brecht, theory needed to be constantly reconciling praxis and, simultaneously, praxis had to be continually reconciling theory. They would interact in a. Eventually, he believed this would lead to a complete reconciling of the two to each other—a perfect action dictated by a perfect theory, a perfect theory altered to perfection by the empirical data collected inpraxis.
Praxis would constantly reaffirm theory and theory would constantly reaffirm praxis and the process of historical progression could finally move to its teleological end—a classless society. For Brecht there was no doubt that this classless society would emerge and that it was the final and determined end to the historical development of class antagonism.
He states, for example, that "the classless society is real Furthermore he asserts that "class struggle. For Brecht this 'end' would bring about the classless society and would emerge with the proletariat's triumph over the bourgeoisie—what he refers to as the "final victory" Journals, p. Brecht's Ethics of Praxis Epic theatre was especially catered to the proletariat.
This was to make the altering of their Weltanschauung possible. Brecht states, for example: BT, p. Brecht believed that worker involvement in a social movement was essential for progressive change because only they were able to generate enough force to counterbalance the bourgeoisie and shift the dialectical union toward reconciliation.
The reconciliation, of course would mean the communistic period of history where the means for production would be owned collectively, eliminating the source of social antagonism. While Brecht's epic theatre was in many ways designed for the proletariat, its purpose of shifting the viewers' epistemic center to the material dialectical Weltanschauung was by no means limited to workers.
Brecht also saw a role for the bourgeois intellectual in the human emancipation he worked for. In his essay, "Intellectuals and Class Struggle," for example, he says that "the proletariat can use all kinds of intellectuals" and recognizes the role of the bourgeois intellectual as one of leadership Brecht, , p.
Brecht was of course a bourgeois intellectual. However, he, like Benjamin, Adorno, Lukacs, and Korsch was an intellectual who was critical of the bourgeois order and, thus philosophically allied to the progressive force of the proletariat. What he hoped for was "a theatre full of experts, just as one has sporting arenas full of experts" BT, p. That is, he hoped to have experts on society and history and thus turn his audience into "statesmen, thinkers and engineers [of society]" MD, p.
This, of course, meant individuals who viewed the world through what Brecht saw as the only possible way to get at true reality—the material dialectical Weltanschauung BAP, p. Once an individual had this particular Weltanschauung, that is, once they had the ability to conceive truth they could become teachers to those without the means of accessing truth. In his discussion on radio as an apparatus of communication, for example, this idea comes out when he talks of "the prime objective of turning the audience not only into pupils but into teachers" BT, p.
Seemingly, Brecht envisioned an exponential growth in the number of Weltanschauung conversions based on the premise that the converted would themselves become converters. As was illustrated above, Brecht's theory of epic theatre constituted a specific philosophy of praxis which was intent on converting the epistemic center of the working class to the material dialectical Weltanschauung.
This, Brecht believed would set the progressive force of the proletariat loose which would in turn alter the dialectical relations between the bourgeoisie and proletariat and create the conditions necessary for the reconciliation of that antagonism. This was the normative goal for Brecht. It was his ethical concern and the goal he directed his actions toward achieving. While largely devoid of moralistic utterances, epic theatre forms a well worked out ethics, based on the praxis element of Brecht's praxis-theory.
The praxis in Brecht's theory was the energies he employed in trying to alter the Weltanschauung of the working class and bourgeois intellectuals. Changing the Weltanschauung of the proletariat in particular was a necessary precondition for social change to happen, according to Brecht. The proletariat needed to become aware of itselfas a capable, coherent historically progressive force.
Undoubtedly, Brecht was troubled by the conditions found in bourgeois society. For example he states, "there [are] painful discrepancies in the world around us, conditions that [are] hard to bear Brecht believed that these conditions were by no means a permanent reality and that under the right conditions things could be changed.
Epic theatre was an attempt to create the necessary conditions for such change to happen. As Brecht states, "the purpose of our investigation was not merely to arouse moral misgivings about certain conditions Brecht was not content to simply complain about the conditions of economic exploitation. His ethical imperative lay in trying to create the necessary groundwork for them to change.
He needed praxis. As Brecht put it, "ideas are extremely useful when they form the basis for action" Brecht, , p. In this way, then, we can say that Brecht's ethical position was found in his philosophy ofpraxis. This position was to change the worldview of the proletariat and help set the conditions necessary for the end of social antagonisms and universal human emancipation.
In Brecht's words, this "road leads over capitalism's dead body, but Epic theatre was Brecht's attempt to change the world. It was a thorough articulation of Marxian theory-praxis and highlights Brecht's deep-seated ethical concerns.
This chapter has shown how epic theatre is a particular form of Marxian praxis theory and forms the basis of Brecht's ethics.
I have made the argument that Brecht was normatively discontented with bourgeois society and had an imperative to create the conditions for the development of what he saw as a better world. For Brecht this necessarily entailed altering Weltanschauung. Ethically, this was what needed to be done. In the next chapter, we will discuss the notion of cognitive disruption in Brecht's work. Brecht believed that they are unable to see these realities because they have been socialized to understand the world through the dominant, i.
This worldview presents current social and economic structures as rational, natural and inevitable. These assumptions of the rationality, naturalness and inevitability of the systems form the core elements of the dominant worldview and are reinforced by bourgeois forms ofart BT.
In response to the bourgeoisie's domination of worldview and in an effort to shatter the mythos created by the worldview, Brecht formed his aesthetic theory of epic theatre which included his estrangement effects which as we saw in the last chapter were designed to make the familiar world seem unfamiliar.
The theory Shakespeare, W. Act 1, scene 5, The theory posited that if one presented empirical representations to an audience in odd, unusual ways it would allow them to begin seeing the world differently. In essence it would demonstrate the possibility of alternative worldviews. This, in turn, would challenge much of what is held as commonsense or taken-for-granted knowledge. It will be argued, in this chapter, that Brecht's estrangement effects are likely to serve this purpose, a position that stands at odds with previous research Silcox, This is demonstrated byclose examination of one estrangement effect employed by Brecht which still works as an estrangement effect— the altering of the structure of narration away from the traditional plot structure articulated by Aristotle in his Poetics.
By drawing on sociology of time literature, I argue that this alteration ofplot structure is, in effect, an alteration of a particular type of time that Zerubavel refers to as 'socio-temporal order' and that Brecht's manipulation of socio-temporal order was a technique used to expose the human origins ofreified social constructions and likely to alter the consciousness of his audience.
After first providing a critique ofthe existing researching on the viability of Brecht's estrangement effects, I will begin by giving an overview of Brecht's aesthetics. In the first two sections, three differences between Brecht's epic narrative and Aristotle's dramatic narrative will be demonstrated. The next section will show how these differences in narrative structure have been previously understood and 23 Dueto the confines of this chapter, the larger debates about the characteristic of Aristotelian plot will be ignored.
When references are made to Aristotelian narrative structure, they are a reconstruction of Brecht's understanding of them as found in: For a defense of Brecht's reading see: Curran The discussion will then turn to establishing that narrative structure is a form of socio-temporal order and that temporal referencing has important implications for human cognition and subsequent conceptualizations of the world. It willthen be established that socio-temporal order can become reified. Next it will be established that dramatic plot is both a form of socio-temporal order and reified and that there are two effects of changing socio-temporal order—anxiety and cognitive disturbance.
In the concluding section it will be argued that Brecht's altering of narrative form has the function of producing anxiety, cognitive disturbance and subsequentlythe disruption of one's belief in their 'reality'. Previous Research on Estrangement Effects Drawing an analogy between Brecht's estrangement effects and the phenomenon of imaginative resistance Silcox attempts to debunk Brecht's theory of estrangement effects.
Specifically, she argues that Brecht's rejection of empathy completely detaches the audience from the performance, leaving them unengaged and thus unable to form meaningful responses. According to Silcox, emotional engagement with artistic communications is necessary for lasting impressions to form and didactic intention to be successful. However, several fatal pathologies in her theoretical conceptualization and empirical data leave this work invalid. For example, Silcox makes several false assumptions about Brecht's theory of estrangement.
First, she assumes that Brecht's work is meant to completely negate emotional response p. This is not the case. As Brecht himself says in a letter to an unknown recipient, his epic theatre was not meant to completely eliminate emotional response. This of course is not the case. I don't see how thought and feeling can be kept apart" Letters, p.
Brecht recognizes the importance of emotional response saying that "the epic principles guarantee a critical attitude on the part of the audience, but that attitude is highly emotional" Journals, p.
Furthermore, this notion is found elsewhere in Brecht's writings BT, , p. What epic theatre attempted to do was to eliminate one particular emotional response, full empathy with the protagonist. This, Brecht believed, would allow the audience to then have an emotional response based on a critical and rational assessment of what they have seen Althusser, ; Benjamin, ; BT; Journals; Sartre, ; Squiers, In fact, Brecht wanted the audience to be engaged with the performance.
He required attentiveness and personal, intellectual commitment to it. The estrangement Brecht desired was an internal estrangement from one's current Weltanschauung or worldview BT; Munk, , p. Brecht, of course, uses the term Verfremdungseffekt estrangement effect. Bloch in Munk, draws a precise and accurate definition of Verfremdung. According to Bloch, while Verfremdung and Entfremdung "are bound together by the alien" Munk, , p.
Brecht's use of the word Verfremdung and not Entfremdung indicates that the moving away or distancing he sought through these effects was a distancing of familiar conceptualization not as Silcox implies a distancing of the audience from the play's performance and its content.
Finally, Silcox erroneously assumes that the primary idea of Brecht's text in his epic theatre was to bombard the audience with moralistic messages p. This too is a false assumption. There is also a pathology with the empirical evidence Silcox uses to support her thesis. Silcox uses survey data taken of audience members after what she deemed to be a performance of epic theatre in p. The survey attempted to gauge what types of effects the play had on the audience.
Walter Benjamin , The perfect case study for epic theater is the streetcorner scene Brecht, Brecht used the streetcorner scene as a method for training actors to work in epic theater. The participants are witnesses to an accident. Some have seen it, while some have only heard it. They disagree with each other about what happened. Some of the witnesses then demonstrate the actions of the driver or victim or both.
Brecht makes the following points about this kind of theater: The demonstrator need not be an artist. The capacities he needs to achieve his aim are in effect universal. Suppose he cannot carry out some particular movement as quickly as the victim he is imitating; all he need do is explain that he moves three times as fast, and the demonstration neither suffers in essentials nor loses its point.
On the contrary it is important that he not be too perfect. The theater exposes its machinery. The experience of the driver and the victim is only partially communicated by him, and he by no means tries to turn it into an enjoyable experience for the spectator.
He is not interested in creating pure emotions i. The demonstration should have a socially practical significance i. This type of theater has to acknowledge certain limitations. It must be able to justify any outlay in terms of its purpose. The demonstration may, for instance, be dominated by the question of compensation for the victim, etc. This type of theater is not based on characters but on actions. A key feature of epic theater is the interruption of representation by commentary. Wherever he feels he can, the demonstrator breaks off his imitation in order to give explanation.
Brecht includes a footnote that contrasts the epic theater with a satirical theater that imitates people for the sole purpose of comedy. Brecht is not against comedy, but he believes that both the sensible and senseless behaviors of a person, and the switch from one to the other, should be imitated.
Brecht on The Alienation-Effect: A common use of the A-effect is when someone says: The Epic Theatre makes use of interruption to produce the Alienation-effect. Eddershaw, OED Definition.
Definition of Dialectical Theatre: An engine-room of change and transformation. It excludes the psychological, the subconscious, the metaphysical unless they can be conveyed in concrete terms. Brecht By Social Gest is meant the mimetic and gestural expression of the social relationships prevailing between people of a given period.
They differ in their approach. Bill Brueh, a Stanislavskian, says that all drama is internal while Brecht says it must be external. In either case, the key is to discover intentions. If I may add my two cents, I think that discovering intentionality is the key to any drama, conventional or interactive. More resources Brecht on Theatre: