|The Attraction England Left OutBy Molly Cincotta
Nominated by Allison Campbell
From the Author: During the Dance and Theatre trip to London, I had the opportunity to see the National Theatre's production of The History Boys by Alan Bennett. At the time I had been reading Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love as part of my preliminary research for my paper topic -- tracing the influence of Oscar Wilde on Stoppard's writing. Watching the production, I was struck by the similarities between the lives of these modern private school boys and A. E. Housman and his schoolmates from more than a century ago in Invention of Love. Both shows, I realized, demonstrated similar battles between the rigid morality of upper class English society and the inevitable passions that occur as a part of everyday life. This tension appeared to be based on an idealization of the ancient world as the paradigm of literary and scientific accomplishment, while omitting the references to baser realities of the time. The more I researched, the more I realized that both Stoppard and Bennett were reflecting a real paradox of English morality that existed throughout history. I found the challenge of this paper to be linking my three playwrights, not only to each other, but also to the historical circumstances they were trying to represent.
From the Faculty Nominator: This paper was written for the course “Dance and Theatre as Cultural Metaphors,” the January ICA in London. Chrystelle Bond (Co-teacher) and I asked students to choose a research topic where residence in London would be particularly useful in fulfilling their research goals. Students were free, however, to pick any topic related to the course’s theme. Molly, as an English major, chose to pursue criticism. Her early research proposal was to compare Oscar Wilde (whose work she had studied in a special topics course in the English department) and Tom Stoppard, a playwright she as a passionate theatergoer, admired. On our ninth day in London when we attended Michael Bennett’s play History Boys at the National Theatre, Molly saw the potential to use this play in her paper. Molly’s academic knowledge of Wilde, her love of the theatre and Stoppard, and the serendipitous introduction to the wit of Bennett provided the foundation for her paper. Interestingly, the three points of entry into the subject matter --scholarship, passion and experience --touch on the multifarious nature of “knowing” that is examined in “The Attraction England Left Out.”
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