Susan Glaspell in Context

American Theater, Culture, and Politics, 1915-48
J. Ellen Gainor
The first in-depth examination of the theatrical achievements of this acclaimed playwright


Susan Glaspell in Context not only discusses the dramatic work of this key American author—perhaps best known for her short story "A Jury of Her Peers" and its dramatic counterpart, Trifles—but also places it within the theatrical, cultural, political, social, historical, and biographical climates in which Glaspell's dramas were created: the worlds of Greenwich Village and Provincetown bohemia, of the American frontier, and of American modernism.

J. Ellen Gainor is Professor of Theatre, Women's Studies, and American Studies, Cornell University. Her other books include Performing America: Cultural Nationalism in American Theater (co-edited with Jeffrey D. Mason) from the University of Michigan Press.

Praise / Awards

  • "Meticulously researched and scrupulously argued, Ellen Gainor's richly rewarding portrait of Susan Glaspell will return this too often overlooked writer to her rightful place as a major figure in the history of American theater and a key contributor to the evolution of feminism as well as modernism."
    —Sandra Gilbert, University of California, Davis
  • "By extracting the playwright's work from the framework of her marriage, Gainor provides Glaspell with the autonomy her characters lived, died and even sometimes murdered for."
    American Theatre
  • "A rich and beautifully written study that is sure to spark further interest in Glaspell's artistry."
  • ". . . the first truly comprehensive examination of Glaspell's less-known dramatic works. . . . Gainor resists the tendency to view the playwright exclusively through the feminist lens that often draws readers to her work. Instead, she contextualizes each play . . . by considering the historical, social, literary, political, and theatrical factors influencing Glaspell's vision. The result is a rich and beautifully written study that is sure the spark further interest in Glaspell's artistry. With its meticulously researched analysis of such plays as Suppressed Desires, Bernice, The Verge and Springs Eternal, this title makes an outstanding contribution to Glaspell studies and the history of American theater."
    —D. D. Knight, SUNY College at Cortland, Choice, September 2002
  • "Gainor's excellent book goes a long way toward helping modern readers and audiences understand Glaspell."
    Modern Drama
  • "Through its fascinating cultural studies approach to the consideration of Glaspell, Gainor creates a rich sense of how fully Glaspell's work was imbued with her historical moment, her intellectual life, and her aesthetic exploration. . . . [The book] is not only a model for how to re-read Glaspell, but for how to re-engage American drama in new, theoretically informed ways."
    Text & Presentation
  • "J. Ellen Gainor's book serves as an ideal model for further scholarly explorations of the work of women playwrights who were writing in the first half of the twentieth century. . . . The book's primary strength is the manner in which it compels a reader to understand the richness of Susan Glaspell's work as a response to a wide range of intellectual ideas, political issues, and cultural trends in the course of her career as a playwright. . . . Gainor's work is not only a model for how to re-read Glaspell, but for how to re-engage American drama in new, theoretically informed ways. As such, this book is certain to be useful for a broad range of theatre scholars, from graduate students making their first connections with Glaspell and shaping their own habits of reading American drama to scholars wishing to extend and deepen their understanding of Glaspell's importance as an American playwright. As Gainor convincingly argues, this importance cannot be underestimated, given the facility with which Glaspell is able to engage modernist impulses in drama, evolving feminist aesthetics, and significant historical and cultural change."
    —Ann M. Fox, Davidson College, Text & Presentation, April 2002
  • "Rich in information and insight about Glaspell, her plays, and her era, this book is essential reading, not only for Glaspell scholars but for scholars of American theatre and culture as well."
    —Marcia Noe, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, Theatre Journal, October 2003

Look Inside

Copyright © 2001, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 336 pages.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2010
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02554-1

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