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Essay on Angels in America - 1163 Words | Bartleby

I will argue that one way to understand Angels in America’s deep engagement with history is through the angel archive the play creates and the new configuration of knowledge produced through it.3 There is nothing random about the play’s angels. Most open a door to a discrete history—Mormon history, Jewish history, the history of the European left—though in the play these co-mingle and overlap, creating a force field of juxtapositions that unsettle all received stories. Some critics such as David Savran have claimed that in Angels in America Kushner has bought into a specific myth of American history, i.e., the myth of American exceptionalism and destined progress toward perfectibility.4 I want to argue that Kushner has done so only by radically queering and transforming that myth. By this I do not simply mean that he has shown the centrality of gays in American history, whether in the persons of Roy Cohn or gay Mormons like Joe Pitt; rather, I will argue that his play queers history by rewriting, interrupting, and co-mingling received narratives as a way of moving beyond their limitations, including narratives of national exceptionalism, special election, and progress. In Angels in America Kushner summons, fragments, and re-arranges pieces of national history in order to create a tentative theatrical intimation of a different, less injurious future. The best way to understand Kushner’s vision of American possibility is, however, to explore the particular archive of angels his play assembles and creates, for it is through that luminous and difficult archive that secular national history is probed and opened to the winds of change.

Angels in America Essay 737 Words | 3 Pages

4 See, in particular, the excellent and provocative essay by Savran, David. 1997. “Ambivalence, Utopia, and A Queer Sort of Materialism: How Angels in America Reconstructs the Nation,” in Approaching the Millennium: Essays on Angels in America. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, pp. 13-39. Savran claims that Kushner is committed to a liberal politics that uses the same rhetoric of American exceptionalism employed by Ronald Reagan.

Angels in America Essay - 737 Words | Bartleby

12/01/2010 · Angels in America is really two full-length plays

It is fair to say, then, that Kushner’s America has many angels in it and that they are integral to his claims to be writing, as the subtitle of Angels in America suggests, A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. While Angels in America was first received as a play about the devastating impact of AIDS before the widespread availability of AZT or other anti-viral drugs, it never was solely an AIDS play, but aspired to use the period of crisis in the late 80s and early 90s to engage national themes, in part through an unusual and far-reaching evocation of American history. Among the people and events from America’s collective past that figure in Angels in America are the visionary prophet Joseph Smith and the story of the Mormon trek from New York west to the new Zion in Utah; Ethel Rosenberg, executed for her alleged part in un-American activities during the McCarthy era; Roy Cohn, a closeted homosexual and a member of Joseph McCarthy’s staff who went on to be a notorious figure in the New York real estate and legal worlds; and Joe Welch, the Army lawyer who played a significant part in bringing McCarthy down.2 This national history is also related to extra-national events such as the lifting of the so-called Iron Curtain and the European pogroms and persecutions that sent waves of Jewish immigrants to America in the first half of the 20th century.

The most interesting use of Mormon traditions in Angels in America, however, lies in Prior Walter’s unconscious imitation of the visionary tradition exemplified by Joseph Smith. In 1823 in Palmyra, New York, the angel Moroni came to the young Smith, saying that the last days were at hand, that Smith was to have a special mission to all nations, and that he was to dig up golden plates on which were written the revelations, supposedly in Egyptian, that, translated by Smith, would become The Book of Mormon.6 To aid him, Smith received the Urim and Thummim, devices like spectacles, which helped with the work of translation.

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It is also the setting for Tony Kushner's play, "Angels in America"

Solomon, Alisa. 1997. “Wrestling with Angels: A Jewish Fantasia,” Approaching the Millenium: Essays on Angels in America. Eds. Geis and Krugers. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.

Savran, David. 1997. “Ambivalence, Utopia, and A Queer Sort of Materialism: How Angels in America Reconstructs the Nation,” in Approaching the Millennium: Essays on Angels in America. Eds. Geis and Krugers. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.

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View Notes - Angels in America Essay #2 from ENGL 111 at UConn

Back in the 1980s and 90s, there was a lot of theorizing that some massive disaster was going to happen at the end of the millennium. During the first part of the Reagan Administration, when a good deal of the play is set, America was still deep in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. This meant that both the US and the USSR were stockpiling massive amounts of nuclear weapons. The threat of nuclear war was real. The approaching turn of millennium only added to the growing paranoia. (To see what else Shmoop has to say about the Cold War, click here .)

Angels in America Essay Topics & Writing Assignments

In Angels in America, both of the Mormon women, Harper and Hannah Pitt, enact this painful process of change. Hannah leaves the safety of Salt Lake City, reversing the Mormon trek, to help her homosexual son, Joe, and then, when he rejects her help, she creates a new family among those not of her blood or her religion: Prior, Louis, and Belize, a black male nurse. Harper finally walks out of the script of the Mormon wife, leaving Joe, and heading west, not on a wagon train headed for Salt Lake City, but on an airplane headed for San Francisco. Each woman has lived through a rupture, a great break with the histories they have known and inhabited, and while this rupture is dramatized as part of a personal narrative, it is also emblematic of the queer and querying relationship to history that the play repeatedly enacts. The women, perhaps because they are not the heroines of the diorama, have the courage to swerve away from the sectarian histories in which their destinies are inscribed and to insert themselves into new histories. Painfully, each woman finds her way away from Salt Lake City and away from the teleological vision of an Elect nation planting a new Zion in the American wilderness. Geography emblematizes the new histories of which each would be a part. They end up single and uncoupled in the great coastal, cosmopolitan and gay cities of San Francisco and New York.

Suggested essay topics and project ideas for Angels in America

Abstract: Jean Howard argues that one way to understand Angels in America’s deep engagement with history is through the angel archive the play creates and the new configuration of knowledge produced through it. Some critics such as David Savron have claimed that in Angels in America Kushner has bought into a specific myth of American history, i.e., the myth of American exceptionalism and destined progress toward perfectibility. Howard argues that Kushner has done so only by radically queering and transforming that myth, not simply by showing the centrality of gays in American history, whether in the persons of Roy Cohn or gay Mormons like Joe Pitt; rather, his play queers history by rewriting, interrupting, and co-mingling received narratives as a way of moving beyond their limitations, including narratives of national exceptionalism, special election, and progress. In Angels in America Kushner summons, fragments, and re-arranges pieces of national history in order to create a tentative theatrical intimation of a different, less injurious future. The best way to understand Kushner’s vision of American possibility is, however, to explore the particular archive of angels his play assembles and creates, for it is through that luminous and difficult archive that secular national history is probed and opened to the winds of change.

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