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Tears in the Fabric: Tracing Social Trauma in the Golden Age Teleplay

Sekoff, Hallie Carmichael

Every technology (from the Greek techne, meaning art or craft) brings with it modes of storytelling. From Paleolithic cave walls, to Greek amphitheaters, to the Elizabethan stage, and onward towards radio, movies, television, and now a plethora of screens; it is my contention that storytelling and dramatic narrative are (among many other things) guiding forms of a culture’s historical memory and collective mourning. In this thesis I explore what happened when televised drama first took up this bardic and memorializing function. Turning to a number of live teleplays from the early 1950s that focused on social issues and cultural traumas, I propose and identify a dramatic genre of response—the “social trauma narrative”--emergent within the nascent television landscape. These teleplays were powerful, innovative, and represented the bare beginning of a movement stemming from a television built on strictly theatrical forms of presentation to a distinct and definable televisual style.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Theatre
Degree
M.F.A., Columbia University
Published Here
May 16, 2017