Mennonites at play : postmodern aspects of Low German drama

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Glendinning, Lesley Kristin
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For those approaching Mennonite culture with little or no previous knowledge, the official definition involves accounts of the martyrdom of early Anabaptists (the Mennonites' forerunners), a history of presecution, and a rigid biblical doctrine that persevered into the twentieth century. However, these aspects are matched, and countered, by a tradition of humour that existed alongside the more serious nature of Mennonitism. My thesis explores one expression of this humourous side of the culture in the Low German Drama created by Mennonites in Manitoba. My study explores the characterisitcs of Low German drama in order to determine both how it functions within the Mennonite community, and its position in relation to English-speaking, mainstream culture. A number of theories aid in my examination of these comic plays, and these can be categorized under the broad term "postmodernism". My discussion investigates Low German drama's subversive qualities, as well as how it probes questions of identity, ethnicity, and the status of women in Mennonite society. Located at the margins of both Mennonite and English-speaking, secular culture in Canada, the Low German comedy in my study holds many important social and theoretical implications with regard to these larger, surrrounding entities.