American Drama: The Bastard Art by Susan Harris Smith

By Susan Harris Smith

During this e-book, Susan Harris Smith appears to be like on the many frequently conflicting cultural and educational purposes for the overlook and dismissal of yankee drama as a valid literary shape. protecting quite a lot of issues resembling theatrical functionality, the increase of nationalist feeling, the construction of educational disciplines, and the advance of sociology, Smith's research is a contentious and revisionist old inquiry into the bothered cultural and canonical prestige of yankee drama, either as a literary style and as a reflect of yankee society.

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He has nothing to say about the forties and fifties. Such radically limited considerations of the drama are manifest. " Of the eighty-six chapters, four concern drama and three focus exclusively on the dominant white male playwrights. " Such compartmentalizing disallows the thematic connections with other genres, closes avenues of comparison, and generally impoverishes the study of American literature and culture. As editor of the new Cambridge History of American Literature, Sacvan Bercovitch addresses the concerns facing the new historians: "One is the recognition that questions of race and gender are integral to formalist analysis" ("Ideology" 637).

The tradition of suspicion about drama, dating back to colonial America, suggests that the well-documented Puritan distaste for theatre and drama holds strong sway over general as well as academic inclinations. The dismissive tone is set in the first history of American literature, Samuel L. Knapp's Lectures on American Literature (1829), which makes descriptive, nonjudgmental, and passing references to only three playwrights: Thomas Godfrey, the first American playwright to be professionally produced in America with The Prince ofParthia; political satirist Mercy Otis Warren; and poet-preacher John Blair Linn.

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