On Susan Glaspell’s Trifles and “A Jury of Her Peers”

Centennial Essays, Interviews and Adaptations


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About the Book

On a wharf in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where Greenwich Village bohemians gathered in the summer of 1916, Susan Glaspell was inspired by a sensational murder trial to write Trifles, a play about two women who hide a Midwestern farm wife’s motive for murdering her abusive husband. Following successful productions of the play, Glaspell became the “mother of American drama.” Her short story version of Trifles, “A Jury of Her Peers,” reached an unprecedented one million readers in 1917. The play and the story have since been taught in classrooms across America and Trifles is regularly revived on stages around the world.
This collection of fresh essays celebrates the centennial of Trifles and “A Jury of Her Peers,” with departures from established Glaspell scholarship. Interviews with theater people are included along with two original works inspired by Glaspell’s iconic writings.

About the Author(s)

Martha C. Carpentier is a retired professor of modern British and Irish literature at Seton Hall University, New Jersey. She is a co-founder of the International Susan Glaspell Society and has been vice-president and president of the society. She lives in Melbourne Beach, Florida.
Emeline Jouve is an assistant professor of American literature and culture at Champollion University and Toulouse Jean-Jaurès University, France. She is the author of several articles on American drama and theater and is the editor of “Staging Mobility in the United-States” for the online journal Miranda (2011). She lives in Toulouse, France.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Martha C. Carpentier and Emeline Jouve
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 236
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6211-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2206-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: An Iconic Work at 100 Years (Martha C. Carpentier and Emeline Jouve) 1
Part I: Scholars’ Voices
Forensic Science and the Aesthetics of Affect in “A Jury of Her Peers” (Catherine Q. Forsa) 12
Seeing, Looking, Pointing: A Linguistic Reading of Trifles and “A Jury of Her Peers” (Marie-Pierre ­Maechling-Mounie) 26
Silent Partners: The “Trifling” Nature of Language in the Theatre of Susan Glaspell and Samuel Beckett (Linda ­Ben-Zvi) 45
Susan Glaspell’s Radicalization of Women’s Crime Fiction: Female Reading Strategies from Anna Katharine Green to Sara Paretsky (Ilka Saal and Mareike Dolata) 62
Powerful Gazes: The Right to Look in Film Adaptations of Trifles and “A Jury of Her Peers” (Noelia ­Hernando-Real) 79
Susan Glaspell’s Gendered Detectives: Suspense and the Threat to Masculine Identity in Radio and Screen Adaptations from 1930 to 1961 (Drew Eisenhauer) 94
Part II: Practitioners’ Voices
Trifles and “A Jury of Her Peers” on Film: Interview with Filmmakers Sally Heckel and Pamela Gaye Walker (Sharon Friedman) 118
Producing Susan Glaspell’s Plays: Interview with Founders of the Orange Tree Theatre, Sam Walters and Auriol Smith (Barbara Ozieblo) 139
Trifles in Production at the Orange Tree Theatre, 2008: Interview with Director Helen Leblique (Barbara Ozieblo) 150
Adaptations / Creations
Sometimes I Sing: Freeing the Voice of Minnie Wright in Trifles (Milbre Burch) 163
From Dramatic Time to Operatic Time: Creating an Opera Libretto from the Play Trifles (John F. McGrew and John G. Bilotta) 182
Sometimes I Sing: An Original Dramatic Monolgue Inspired by Trifles (Milbre Burch) 193
Trifles: An Original Operatic Libretto (John F. McGrew) 203
Bibliography 219
About the Contributors 225
Index 227

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Carpentier and Jouve, are experts in this field and have conducted extensive research on Glaspell’s theater…a must”—Revista de Estudios Norteamericanos.