Prof. Anthony Pennino (Assistant Professor, Literature) will be speaking at the annual conference of the PCA/ACA to be held in Washington in March, 2013. The title of his paper is: Catastrophe Approaches: The Science of Global Warming in Kushner's Angels in America.
Prof. Pennino's proposal:
This paper will focus on the importance of science in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. When considering this play, much of the conversation with regard to the role science occupies has centered on medicine and biology. This attention is, of course, understandable given the nature and content of the work. I propose, however, to examine an equally important, though rarely discussed, scientific aspect of Kushner’s opus: that of the environment. Global climate change and destruction of the environment in the pursuit of industrial development and corporate profit is central to a full understanding of the drama. For instance, the character of Harper Pitt, while in the throes of Valium-induced hallucinations, believes she can see the ozone layer breaking open. Meanwhile, after discovering the role his second lover Joe has in protecting polluters from class action lawsuits, Louis Ironson experiences an epiphany that marks a turn in the character’s development. Kushner here is drawing parallels between the destruction AIDS causes the human body and the destruction pollution and other environmental hazards cause the global body. The lens of science and literature will be extremely valuable in further discussion of this important play.