The Routledge Anthology of US Drama: 1898-1949  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Anthology of US Drama: 1898-1949

ISBN 9781138018365
Published October 4, 2016 by Routledge
1002 Pages

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Book Description

The first half of the Twentieth Century was a vibrant period for U.S. theatre. As the United States emerged as a significant military, economic, political and cultural power, so its theatre began to distinguish itself from the prevailing European model. The plays and dramatic texts in this anthology demonstrate the vital and volatile relationship between U.S. theatre, its society, and the ways in which that theatre has both supported and challenged prevailing systems of thought and action.

This collection is organized around key thematic perspectives from colonialism to psychoanalysis, viewing the artistic output of this era through the socio-political events and controversies that shaped it. Each play is accompanied by a critical commentary from a leading scholar and a set of archive source materials, including playbills, production shots, reviews, essays, poems, newspaper articles and official documents. These supplements bring to life the rich and diverse theatre cultures that operated in the United States during this period and explore the essential ways that these cultural artifacts engaged with the national debates that surrounded them.

The plays themselves both support and challenge the existing canon of U.S. dramatic literature; a selection that speaks not only to aesthetic innovation, but also to the critical moments of political change and national definition that helped to shape the United States. From Miller, Williams and O’Neill to Angelina Grimké, David Belasco and Mae West, this is the ideal collection for any course in U.S. theatre.


Table of Contents

Introduction – Joshua Polster

Part 1 – Colonialism

Colonial and Native Rule in Performance

1. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show

2. Madame Butterfly – David Belasco

3. The Pan-American Exposition

4. The Great Divide – William Vaughan Moody

Part 2 – Race and Ethnicity

Minstrels and Tom Shows

5. Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Anti-Lynching Plays

6. Rachel – Angelina Weld Grimké

Immigration and Vaudeville

7. Vaudeville Humour – Ed Lowry

8. I’m Going to Mexico – Netty and Jesus Rodriguez

9. Te Ata

Part 3 – Gender and Sexuality

Feminism and Feminist Theatre

10. Trifles – Susan Glaspell

11. How Poor Women Prostitute Themselves – Luisa Capetillo

The Sexual Revolution and Broadway

12. Sex – Mae West

13. Machinal – Sophie Treadwell

Part 4 – Economic Structure

The Great Depression and the Workers’ Theatre Movement

14. Scottsboro, Limited – Langston Hughes

15. Waiting for Lefty – Clifford Odets

The New Deal and the Federal Theatre Project

16. The Revolt of the Beavers – Oscar Saul and Lou Lantz

17. One Third of a Nation – Arthur Arent

Part 5 – Systems of Government

The Rise of Fascism, Isolationist and Interventionist Theatre

18. It Can’t Happen Here – Sinclair Lewis and John C. Moffitt

19. The Skin of Our Teeth – Thornton Wilder

20. Watch on the Rhine – Lillian Hellmann

Part 6 – Queer and Psychoanalytic Theory

Performing the Closet: Coded Gay Dramas

21. Summer and Smoke – Tennessee Williams

The Rise of U.S. Psychoanalysis and Freud Onstage

22. The Iceman Cometh – Eugene O’Neill

23. Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller

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"This volume distinguishes itself by coupling an effective and diverse survey of US drama with invaluable critical and primary sources. Its supplementary materials provide a rich context for the plays and performances included, and are helpfully accessible to undergraduate students."

  • Lindsay Hunter, SUNY – Buffalo, USA

"What makes The Routledge Anthology of US Drama 1898-1949 extraordinary are the supplemental materials - the "artifacts of culture" - which contextualize our performance practices within a given moment without relying on the mythologizing meta-narratives of the progression of our dramatic art. Rather, Polster offers an interdisciplinary approach that provides a new direction for the ways in which we can teach (and learn) about our dramatic arts and ourselves. This anthology may be the most important, at the very least most comprehensive, collection of plays, essays, historical records, and artifacts focused on this era." 

  • John Patrick Bray, University of Georgia, USA