Date of Award

Spring 4-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Orchid Tierney


Most scholarship on Sarah Kane segments her oeuvre into her early contributions to “in-yer-face” theatre and her latter two increasingly fragmentary plays. My project understands Cleansed (1998) and 4.48 Psychosis (1999) as a joint project of resistance to normative modes of representation and subjectivity under biopolitics. My title indicates my two foremost interventions in Kane studies: first, an emphasis on Kane’s poetics and discursive play; and second, the way Kane’s poetics and discursive play generate new modes of subjectivity. This thesis examines speech and subjectivity under biopolitics in Kane’s Cleansed and 4.48 Psychosis in three chapters. In Chapter One, I examine the relationship between pharmacology, psychotherapeutic confessional practice, and subject formation in Cleansed and 4.48 Psychosis. Deriving a theoretical framework from Michel Foucault and Paul B. Preciado, I outline Kane’s biopolitics of resistance. In Chapter Two, I read 4.48 Psychosis in the context of Emily Dickinson’s poetics. I examine Kane’s cyclical poetics and its challenge to a linear evidence-based biomedical model. In Chapter Three, I examine speech and silence in Philip Venables’s 2018 operatic adaptation of 4.48 Psychosis. I explore embodied performance and speech, and Venables’s manipulation of speech through projected typeface. Kane’s theatre does not offer a departure from biopolitics but rather discursive modes of disruption and dissent within a biopolitical context.

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