By Susan Harris Smith
During this publication, Susan Harris Smith appears on the many usually conflicting cultural and educational purposes for the overlook and dismissal of yankee drama as a valid literary shape. overlaying a variety of themes equivalent to theatrical functionality, the increase of nationalist feeling, the production of educational disciplines, and the advance of sociology, Smith's research is a contentious and revisionist ancient inquiry into the afflicted cultural and canonical prestige of yankee drama, either as a literary style and as a replicate of yank society.
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As to the reasons for the paucity of "fine native plays," Blankenship cites the "vague impropriety" of the stage suspected by large numbers of Americans, the slavish devotion to Shakespeare, the dominance of rhetorical declamation associated with romantic tendencies, and the lack of financial rewards for playwrights until long after the Civil War. Percy Boynton, in Literature and American Life (1936), echoes the other critics of the thirties in tracing the bias against drama to several causes, including Puritan repression, the prohibitions of the Continental Congress War Measure act of 1774, which discouraged colonists from horse racing, cockfighting, and playgoing, and the commercial and superficial managerdominated theatres of the nineteenth century.
Before that, PMLA published Doris Alexander's PATTERNED ISOLATION 31 "Psychological Fate in Mourning Becomes Electra" in 1953. At the rate of one every twenty years, PMLA is about due for another article on American drama, although it recently published a special topics issue on performance (May 1992), a subject that seems to be pushing drama as literature further out of the picture. In the last two decades, Contemporary Literature, despite a pronounced proclivity for Samuel Beckett and one article each on Pinter and Friel, has included nothing on American drama.
The only play in Jay HubbelTs American Life in Literature (1951), a collection of the works of forty-seven "important writers" who were "thinking about American problems," is O'Neill's The Emperor Jones (xiii). Most first volumes of more recent two-volume anthologies of American literature, although they include a wide variety of materials such as meditations, letters, humor, folklore, and songs, simply omit drama. For example, the first volume of The Norton Anthology of American Literature (1979) contains no plays.