Art as Symptom or Symptomatology? Performative Subjects, Capitalist Performativity, and Performance-Based Therapy in Duncan Macmillan's People, Places and Things

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Fakhrkonandeh A., Sumbul Y.

Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, vol.23, no.4, pp.503-546, 2021 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 23 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.5325/intelitestud.23.4.0503
  • Journal Name: Interdisciplinary Literary Studies
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, MLA - Modern Language Association Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.503-546
  • Keywords: therapy culture, critical-clinical, symptomatic-symptomatological, Duncan Macmillan, performance, performativity
  • Ankara Haci Bayram Veli University Affiliated: Yes


© 2021 Penn State University Press. All rights reserved.What a survey of contemporary British drama reveals is a plethora of plays concerned not only with psychological and medical issues, but with precarious individuals, whose symptomatic condition is presented in terms of schizophrenia or schizoid states. Duncan Macmillan's People, Places and Things (2015) can be considered as a distinctive play in this trend, where not only a rehabilitation center features as its setting, but its main character is afflicted with a complex cluster of symptoms: A schizoid personality, addiction, melancholic loss, and Oedipal tension with parents. Taking People, Places and Things as its focal point, and situating its arguments in the context of "Therapy Culture" (Furedi), this article demonstrates that what distinguishes Macmillan's approach is his deconstructive understanding of the aporias besetting three chief spheres of human action, cognition, and affection: The epistemological, ontological and moral position of (1) his own art/ work and its methods/techniques, (2) the (psycho-)therapeutic disciplines and institutes, (3) contemporary social-cultural discourse and political hegemony. Scrutinizing Macmillan's treatment of the foregoing triad, it will be argued how his method can be characterized in two terms: Symptomatic-symptomatological