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Transferential Poetics, from Poe to Warhol$
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Adam Frank

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262465

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262465.001.0001

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Loose Coordinations: Theater and Thinking in Gertrude Stein

Loose Coordinations: Theater and Thinking in Gertrude Stein

(p.96) 4 / Loose Coordinations: Theater and Thinking in Gertrude Stein
Transferential Poetics, from Poe to Warhol

Adam Frank

Fordham University Press

This essay offers a reading of Gertrude Stein’s lecture “Plays” alongside the work of several thinkers on emotion, William James, Silvan Tomkins, and Wilfred Bion. The problem of what Stein calls “emotional syncopation” at the theater is understood in the context of James’ theory of emotion. The chapter unfolds Stein’s emphasis on varieties of excitement by way of Tomkins’ writing, then turns to Wilfred Bion’s theory of thinking to argue that the main problem with theater is the difficulty it poses to learning or arriving at genuinely new knowledge. The essay concludes by proposing that one context for Stein’s investigation is the technologies and institutions of mass media that helped to establish her fame, and suggests that Stein’s plays address the problem of how to make emotional contact with groups in the environment of mass media.

Keywords:   emotion, theater, mass media, Gertrude Stein, William James, Silvan Tomkins, Wilfred Bion

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