Performance Anxiety and the Belated Viewer

Harry Berger Jr.

in Manhood, Marriage, and Mischief

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780823225569
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240937 | DOI:
Performance Anxiety and the Belated Viewer

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The real purpose of the fiction of collective posing is to pretend to overcome, but actually to feature, the separateness of the individual participants who vie for the observer's attention. The formal and social disaggregation that threatens to demystify the pretext of collective posing thus ultimately reinforces and justifies it. Performance anxiety is to be read into or out of portraits, it has to be keyed, not to the vague parameters of the universal viewer, but to the social, political, economic, and cultural pressures of that local neighborhood. The argument Knevel makes would be better served by translating it into Kettering's terms, for the inventory of qualities he attributes to the militia portraits in these and other passages suggests precisely the form of embarrassment or performance anxiety she picks out.

Keywords: disaggregation; posing; performance anxiety; Knevel; Kettering; militia portraits

Chapter.  1335 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literature

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