Presence and Desire

Presence and Desire:  Essays on Gender, Sexuality, Performance (1994)

In Presence and Desire, Jill Dolan critically engages contemporary feminist and poststructuralist theory in addressing the major issues for women in theater.  Taking sexuality as a primary category of analysis throughout, Dolan examines a wide variety of performances:  academic and professional, mainstream and subcultural, in formal settings and in everyday life.

Dolan explores the potential for performance strategies and theatrical representation to intervene in normative constructs of sexuality and gender, and to provoke American culture to examine and reimagine its social relations.  Each essay addresses a different aspect of performance studies, such as U.S. feminist theater since the 1960s, pornography and performance in various contexts, or the potential to increase gay and lesbian visibility through theater production.

Performance is currently one of the most important metaphors in both the humanities and gender studies.  Presence and Desire will be useful in theater studies, women’s studies, and gay and lesbian studies; it will interest anyone committed to cultural criticism that blends theory and practice from a feminist perspective.

Read excerpts from Presence and Desire.

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