Essays on Her Theater and Fiction
The first book-length critical assessment of American playwright and fiction writer Susan Glaspell
The career of Susan Glaspell (1876-1948), the American playwright and novelist, follows closely the trajectory of other "reclaimed" American women writers of the century such as Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Zora Neale Hurston: well known in her time, effaced from canonical consideration after her death, rediscovered years later through the surfacing of one work, around which critical attention has focused. Glaspell was a respected international playwright and novelist who amassed some of the most impressive credentials in American theater history, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1931. Over the past fifteen years, she has been rediscovered through the work of leading feminist scholars; and her one-act play Trifles and its short story form, "A Jury of Her Peers," have become classics.
This book is the first collection devoted to the study of the body of Glaspell's work. Essays by leading playwrights and scholars provide an array of perspectives on the writer and her work. The book features the first complete Glaspell bibliography, including original reviews of her plays and fiction and recent critical studies of her writing.
Praise / Awards
"In this comprehensive study of the early twentieth century playwright and fiction writer, Ben-Zvi reclaims for Glaspell her well-deserved place in the history of American drama."
"This collection of essays is a welcome addition tot he growing field of Glaspell scholarship."
"This much-needed collection provides the reader with detailed analysis of Glaspell's plays as well as her other more literary work. . . . [T]his book, in bringing together recent work from Susan Glaspell scholars, provides a depth and range of thought so far unparalleled. This is a tremendously useful collection, especially for those who are less than familiar with the context of Glaspell's dramatic writing, and the book is invaluable for students, scholars, and practitioners alike."
—New Theatre Quarterly
"For its astute history and sensitive critical perspectives of Glaspell, her work, and her time, this text is most welcome to feminist drama critics and hopefully to all American theatre historians. . . . Editor Ben-Zvi's sweeping critical anthology of Susan Glaspell's work and times reveals largely-undervalued knowledge of Glaspell, new critical perspectives with which to view her work, and observations as to why Glaspell has not received her deserved place in American theatre history. These critics evaluate and establish Glaspell as a feminist writer of significance in both her style and content. The anthology should be ordered for every college library and is an excellent resource for a woman writers course, an American theatre course, and a women's theatre course."
—Theatre History Studies
"This volume is intended for both those unacquainted with Glaspell's work and for those who know it well. Ben-Zvi's meticulous organization ensures that it fulfills this difficult brief."
Introduction - 1
Part 1: Trifles and "A Jury of Her Peers": Lifelines
"Murder, She Wrote": The Genesis of Susan Glaspell's Trifles - 19
Small Things Reconsidered: "A Jury of Her Peers" - 49
Murder and Marriage: Another Look at Trifles -71
Part 2: Toward The Verge
"The Haunting Beauty from the Life We've Left": A Contextual Reading of Trifles and The Verge - 85
Liza Maeve Nelligan
Suppression and Society in Susan Glaspell's Theater - 105
Reflections on The Verge - 123
The Verge: L'Ecriture Feminine at the Provincetown - 129
Part 3: Full-length Female Figures
Beyond The Verge: Absent Heroines in the Plays of Susan Glaspell - 145
Bernice's Strange Deceit: The Avenging Angel in the House - 155
Chains of Dew and the Drama of Birth Control - 165
J. Ellen Gainor
Glaspell and Dickinson: Surveying the Premises of Alison's House - 195
Conflic of Interest: The Ideology of Authorship in Alison's House - 219
Part 4: Re-Visioning the Dramatic Canon
Susan Glaspell: Mapping the Domains of Critical Revision - 239
Susan's Sisters: The "Other" Women Writers of the Provincetown Players - 259
Judith E. Barlow
Part 5: Novel Women
Lifting the Masks of Male-Female Discourse: The Rhetorical Strategies of Susan Glaspell - 303
Forging a Woman's Identity in Susan Glaspell's Fiction - 317
Susan Glaspell Chronology - 331
Susan Glaspell Bibliography - 337
Contributors - 345
Index - 349
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