Next Article in Journal
New Formalism in the Classroom: Re-Forming Epic Poetry in Wordsworth and Blake
Next Article in Special Issue
Inhabiting Liminality: Cosmopolitan World-Making in Naeem Mohaiemen’s Tripoli Cancelled
Previous Article in Journal
Senses of Echo Lake: Michael Palmer, Stanley Cavell, and the Moods of an American Philosophical Tradition
Previous Article in Special Issue
Terrestrial Cosmopolitanism, Posthumanism, and Multispecies Modes of Being in Cereus Blooms at Night
Open AccessArticle

The American Film Musical and the Place(less)ness of Entertainment: Cabaret’s “International Sensation” and American Identity in Crisis

English and American Literary Studies, Universität Passau, 94032 Passau, Germany
Humanities 2019, 8(2), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8020099
Received: 20 March 2019 / Revised: 13 May 2019 / Accepted: 14 May 2019 / Published: 19 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue (Re)Mapping Cosmopolitanism in Literature and Film)
This article looks at cosmopolitanism in the American film musical through the lens of the genre’s self-reflexivity. By incorporating musical numbers into its narrative, the musical mirrors the entertainment industry mise en abyme, and establishes an intrinsic link to America through the act of (cultural) performance. Drawing on Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of the chronotope and its recent application to the genre of the musical, I read the implicitly spatial backstage/stage duality overlaying narrative and number—the musical’s dual registers—as a means of challenging representations of Americanness, nationhood, and belonging. The incongruities arising from the segmentation into dual registers, realms complying with their own rules, destabilize the narrative structure of the musical and, as such, put the semantic differences between narrative and number into critical focus. A close reading of the 1972 film Cabaret, whose narrative is set in 1931 Berlin, shows that the cosmopolitanism of the American film musical lies in this juxtaposition of non-American and American (at least connotatively) spaces and the self-reflexive interweaving of their associated registers and narrative levels. If metalepsis designates the transgression of (onto)logically separate syntactic units of film, then it also symbolically constitutes a transgression and rejection of national boundaries. In the case of Cabaret, such incongruities and transgressions eventually undermine the notion of a stable American identity, exposing the American Dream as an illusion produced by the inherent heteronormativity of the entertainment industry. The film advocates a cosmopolitan model of cultural hybridity and the plurality of identities by shedding light on the faultlines of nationalist essentialism. View Full-Text
Keywords: American film musical; chronotope; metalepsis; mise en abyme; Americanness; cosmopolitanism; transnationalism; performativity; heteronormativity; Cabaret American film musical; chronotope; metalepsis; mise en abyme; Americanness; cosmopolitanism; transnationalism; performativity; heteronormativity; Cabaret
MDPI and ACS Style

Zitzelsberger, F. The American Film Musical and the Place(less)ness of Entertainment: Cabaret’s “International Sensation” and American Identity in Crisis. Humanities 2019, 8, 99.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop