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Staging Separate Spheres

Theatrical Spaces as Sites of Antagonism in One-Act Plays by American Women, 1910–1930- Including Bibliographies on One-Act Plays in the United States, 1900–1940


Susanne Auflitsch

During the first half of the 20 th century approximately 10,000 short plays were written in the United States. This book examines twenty one-act plays by authors such as Mary Shaw, Susan Glaspell, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who wrote from such diverse backgrounds as women’s clubs, art theaters, or commercial theaters. This study argues that the plays share a structural organization along spatial dichotomies of theatrical space within and theatrical space without. While some writers use the underlying structure of separate spheres and organize place and space in order to promote a broader definition of «domesticity», the spatial configurations in other plays are read as appropriations, affirmations, negotiations, subversions, or transgressions of the separate spheres dichotomy. Substantial bibliographies documenting the productivity of the one-act genre supplement this study.

«With tremendous effort, Auflitsch literally maps out the field of the one-act play by women in all its significant dimensions. This is innovative literary scholarship of an essential kind. And it is definitely much more than can reasonably be expected from a doctoral dissertation.» (Jochen Achilles, Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies)