On Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play and a Western Understanding of the Human Response to the Loss of Electricity

Theonesse Cheon


This essay is in part a "psychological" analysis and in part an experimentation on applying media studies to interpret a contemporary piece of literature, Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, by Anne Washburn. This
is because I find this play as a proposal in that it offers us one illustration of how humans may react to the sudden loss of electricity. I intend to analyze this reaction and offer a way to understand why humans may
react to the sudden loss of electricity the way the characters in the play do. It is of course not the only way and I am aware of some of the problems that may arise in going with this interpretation. Yet I do want to demonstrate how far, given the space provided, such an interpretation may go. With that said, I propose that the play offers us how people may cope with the loss of electricity, suggesting that how they cope reflects a bias that media studies can explain.


Sara Bay-Chen; Ritual storytelling; Theatre guilds; Opera; Coping Mechanisms; Bias; Television; Marshall McLuhan; Extension

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