Theatres of Human Sacrifice: From Ancient Ritual to Screen Violence

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SUNY Press, Nov 18, 2004 - Social Science - 275 pages
Contemporary debates about mass media violence tend to ignore the long history of staged violence in the theatres and rituals of many cultures. In Theatres of Human Sacrifice, Mark Pizzato relates the appeal and possible effects of screen violence today?in sports, movies, and television news?to specific sacrificial rites and performance conventions in ancient Greek, Aztec, and Roman culture. Using the psychoanalytic theories of Lacan, Kristeva, and Zizek, as well as the theatrical theories of Artaud and Brecht, the book offers insights into the ritual lures and effects of current mass media spectatorship, especially regarding the pleasures, purposes, and risks of violent display. Updating Aristotle’s notion of catharsis, Pizzato identifies a sacrificial imperative within the human mind, structured by various patriarchal cultures and manifested in distinctive rites and dramas, with both positive and negative potential effects on their audiences.

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About the author (2004)

Mark Pizzato is Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the author of Edges of Loss: From Modern Drama to Postmodern Theory.

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