Susan Glaspell and the Anxiety of Expression

Language and Isolation in the Plays


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About the Book

One of the founding members of the Provincetown Players, Susan Glaspell contributed to American literature in ways that exceed the work she did for this significant theatre group. Interwoven in her many plays, novels and short stories is astute commentary on the human condition. This volume provides an in-depth examination of Glaspell’s writing and how her language conveys her insights into the universal dilemma of society versus self.
Glaspell’s ideas transcended the plot and character. Her work gave prominent attention to such issues as gender, politics, power and artistic daring. Through an exploration of eight plays written between the years of 1916 and 1943—Trifles, Springs Eternal, The People, Alison’s House, Bernice, The Outside, Chains of Dew and The Verge—this work concentrates on one of Glaspell’s central themes: individuality versus social existence. It explores the range of forces and fundamental tensions that influence the perception and communication of her characters. The final chapter includes a brief commentary on other Glaspell works. A biographical overview provides background for the author’s reading and interpretation of the plays, placing Glaspell within the context of literary modernism.

About the Author(s)

Kristina Hinz-Bode is assistant professor of American Literature at the University of Kassel, Germany. She lives in Germany.

Bibliographic Details

Kristina Hinz-Bode
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 302
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2505-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8370-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Introduction      1

1. Social Rebel or Conventional Woman? Community as Threat and Blessing in Susan Glaspell’s Life and Art      9

2. Language and Communication: Theoretical Points of Departure      23

3. Trifles (1916): The “Female” Voice of Community?      55

4. The People (1917): Artistic Expression and Social Change      75

5. The Outside (1917): Survival through Communication      87

6. Bernice (1919): Human Intersubjectivity—Potential and Dangers      103

7. Chains of Dew (1919/1922): An Artist’s Social Responsibilities and a Woman’s Binding Love      127

8. The Verge (1921): Language and the Individual      151

9. Alison’s House (1930): Speaking Across the Centuries      183

10. Springs Eternal (1943): Art and Society      207

11. Other Works: Drama and Fiction      225

12. Conclusion      249

Notes      257

Bibliography      271

Index      281

Book Reviews & Awards

“an important…contribution”—The Eugene O’Neill Review.