Puppets and "popular" Culture
Scott Cutler Shershow explores the historical relationship between puppet theater and the human stage from the Renaissance to the present. Focusing on the ways in which various modes of bourgeois discourse have used the puppet as metaphor, paradigm of theatrical performance, and symbol of subordination, he maintains that "elite" and "popular" forms of culture are inextricably linked.
Shershow examines an astonishing range of texts and performers - from Ben Jonson to Jim Henson, from Plato to Punch and Judy, from Enlightenment essays to works by the modernist avant-garde. He shows that the many forms of puppet theater which have flourished on the margins of social life in the carnival, fairground, and marketplace - have been both disparaged and celebrated by authors attempting to demonstrate their own legitimate or literary status. Shershow thus suggests that so-called high and low practices thoroughly interpenetrate one another, forcing us to question whether rival social groups ever truly have their own separate "cultures."
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