The Power of Angels in America

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The Power of Angels in America

"Such ethical possibility is, however, founded on and coextensive with the subject's movement toward what Foucault calls 'care of the self,' the often very fragile concern to provide the self with pleasure and nourishment in an environment that is perceived not particularly to offer them." -Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

"Demanding that life near AIDS is an inextricably other reality denies our ability to recreate a sustaining culture and social structures, even as we are daily required to devote such time to the details of the AIDS crisis." -Cindy Patton

Tony Kushner's two-part play (or, if you will, two plays) Angels In America is one of most famous and most powerful plays about AIDS and gay life to come out of the early 1990s. It not only engages with the political issues surrounding AIDS and homosexuality in Reaganite America, but also deals with deeply philosophical questions of identity and the nature of God. It's no surprise that this play has sparked comment, including the criticism of the conservative right. In this paper, I intend to examine two of the articles written on the play. The first, Gordon Rogoff's "Angels in America, Devils in the Wings," is quite problematic, and errors of fact that the author makes about the play lead me to wonder at its value for analysis. The second article, Charles McNulty's "Angels in America: Tony Kushner's Theses on the Philosophy of History" pose some difficult questions regarding the plays' relationship to the concept of history, arguing that Millennium Approaches1 deconstructs history while Perestroika moves away from this deconstruction. According to McNulty, this is a problem in the second part of the pla...

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... One of Angels in America. Perestroika is Part Two of the play.

Works Cited

Kushner, Tony. Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches. New York: Theatre Communications Group, Inc., 1992.

---. Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika. New York: Theatre Communications Group, Inc., 1992.

McNulty, Charles. "Angels in America: Tony Kushner's Theses on the Philosophy of History." Modern Drama 39.1 (1996): 84-96.

Patton, Cindy. "Teaching About AIDS." Inventing AIDS. New York: Routledge, 1990. 99-120.

Rogoff, Gordon. "Angels in America, Devils in the Wings." Theater 24.2 (1993), 21-29.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. "Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading; Or, You're So Paranoid, You Probably Think This Introduction is About You." Novel Gazing: Queer Readings in Fiction. Ed. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Durham: Duke UP, 1997. 1-37.

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