Performing Nerves: Four Plays, Four Essays, On Hysteria

Furse, Anna F. D.. 2020. Performing Nerves: Four Plays, Four Essays, On Hysteria. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 9781138389366 [Book]

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Abstract or Description

Academic interest in hysteria has burgeoned in recent decades. The topic has been probed by feminist theorists, cultural studies specialists, literary scholars, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, medical and art historians, as well as novelists. The hysteric is construed as a powerless, voiceless subject, marginalised by the forces of the patriarchy that have been the root cause of their distress, dissembling, and disablement.

In Performing Nerves, Anna Furse interweaves her artistic and academic practice, drawing on her own performance texts to explore four different versions of debilitating hysteric suffering. Each text is extensively annotated, revealing the dramaturgical logic and, in turn, the historical, medical, and cultural contexts behind their protagonists' illnesses, which are argued as environmentally caused in each case. This unique, reflective insight into a playwright and director’s craft offers not only an account of how mental suffering can manifest in different contexts and times, from the 19th century to today, but also a breadth of access to the ideas that can motivate creative research.

This book is an invaluable resource for scholars of theatre studies, performance studies, dramaturgy, 20th-century history, gender studies, and medical humanities.

Item Type:



performance, nerves, hysteria, hysteric suffering, artistic practice, practice research, illness

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


14 May 2020

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

12 Apr 2016 11:28

Last Modified:

03 Dec 2020 12:17


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