chapter  11
11 Pages

Mamet’s Oleanna in Context: Performance, Personal, Pedagogy

I am sitting in my office, writing this article. It is a small office for a tenuretrack professor, may be ten feet by six feet. The walls are painted a bright blue-within a certain spectrum, we are allowed to choose what color we want our walls. My walls are filled with shelves filled with books, many books, like most of the offices here. In fact, when students enter my office, the first thing many of them do is ask, “Have you read all these books?” My books are broken into sections: theory, world literature, American drama, anthologies. It’s not a consistent system, but for the most part I know where everything is. I keep pictures of my wife and four-year-old daughter around my desk. A photo of my daughter is the wallpaper on my computer screen. Surrounding me, with the books and a very large, imposing file cabinet are bits of detritus from various placeskitsch, tchotchkes that are calculated to make the office seem less than academic-Tom Waits poster, Mighty Mouse action figures, a boomerang actually from Australia, a rubber monk holding a cup of coffee. I keep several dozen compact discs in my office, and when students meet with me, I ask them, “What kind of music do you like to listen to?” Inevitably, from punk to rap to classical, I have something. I also have piles of papers on my desk, papers graded, to be graded, copies of sources for this and other articles, memos-Christ, so many memos. There’s a couch against the wall behind me, and a coat rack on which I keep a spare tweed sports jacket in case I can’t get home to change for an event. I am exceedingly comfortable in my office, even now, when ifs a mess. I am constructed by the space I have constructed, somewhat knowingly, somewhat subconsciously or unconsciously.