The Treatment of Violence in Howard Barker’s Judith

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Pshtiwan M. Arf
Hamid B. Abdulsalam


As a postmodern dramatist, Howard Barker does not assume any presupposed meanings or messages of his writings. However, he deliberately and systematically works on deconstructing those ‘grand narratives’ that shape and give meaning to this world. In Judith, Barker challenges the audience’s understanding of history and their knowledge of the biblical story of Judith. His interest in the story is to defy traditional view towards the events, especially those which are related to religion, gender, history and violence. The current study aims at showing that seduction and extremity of violence which are at the heart of Barker’s Judith. It also shows how he connects violence to sex, seduction, and gender. Through these elements, Barker creates an atmosphere of uneasiness and bewilderment that necessitates deep thinking on the part of the audience. Barker uses: history to rewrite it, religion to reveal his faith in Christianity and violence to reveal it as human instinct and a necessity.  In Barker’s play sex and violence are intermingled as two related sides that form greater part in staging catastrophe. The ultimate goal of this paper is to show Judith as the product of The Theater of Catastrophe which relates violence to gender and seduction.    As a Biblical story the play embraces a great amount of violence which the researchers examine in detail; how he stages extremity and uses catastrophe to create meaning in his play.


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Arf, P. M. and Abdulsalam, H. B. (2022) “The Treatment of Violence in Howard Barker’s Judith”, Koya University Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 5(1), pp. 35-40. doi: 10.14500/kujhss.v5n1y2022.pp35-40.
Author Biography

Hamid B. Abdulsalam, Department of English Language, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Koya University, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Hamid B. Abdulsalam has a Ph.D. in modern American poetry. Hamid is currently the director of Behar English Language Center where he has taught several EFL classes and a member of the editorial board of Koya University journal of humanities and social sciences (KUJHSS). He has authored and co-authored a number of articles on literary issues. He teaches literature classes and graduate courses at Koya University, and has participated in a number of workshops on English language and literature. His academic expertise has been sharpened by attending an intensive course on American Literature at the University of Massachusetts as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar, and an intensive course on English language teaching at Spring International Language Center, UARK. Hamid finds much pleasure and creative energy in the EFL and poetry classroom.


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