Brenda Murphy

American Realism and American Drama, 1880-1940
Journal Articles
CV/ Resume
After the Voyage
Becoming Carlotta
Theatre of Tennessee Williams


American Realism and American Drama, 1880-1940.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.


In American Realism and American Drama 1880-1940, Professor Brenda Murphy inves­tigates the connection between the leading theorists of realism in the United States -nineteenth-century writers William Dean Howells and Henry James - and the American dramatic realism that developed after the turn of the century. In doing so, she engages four major tasks: to describe the dramatic theory the American realists developed in their dra­ma criticism and clarify it in the context of contemporary dramatic theory; to show its immediate impact on the theater in the real­ists' own drama and that of their theatrical disciples; to trace its slow evolution between the early 1890s and World War I; and to de­scribe the uniquely American innovations in the realistic drama that resulted, which flour­ished during the period between World War I and World War II.

The author analyzes the substantial body of critical writings on the drama by writers such as James, Howells, Hamlin Garland, Brander Matthews, and James A. Home, as well as an even more substantial body of plays by these writers and contemporaries Mark Twain and Bret Harte. Murphy also examines a number of plays from the early twentieth century, in­cluding works by Rachel Crothers, Edward Sheldon, and Clyde Fitch, and plays by mid-century writers Eugene O'Neill, Susan Glaspell, Philip Barry, S. N. Behrman, Elmer Rice, and Robert Sherwood. Throughout American Realism and American Drama, Mur­phy places the uniquely American development of dramatic realism in the his­tory of the theater as a whole and to place American realistic drama in the context of American literary history.

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Preface                                                                                                   page ix


The State of the Art: The American Theatrical Scene in the 1880s                1

Realistic Dramatic Theory                                                                                   24

The Literary Realists as Playwrights                                                                 50

The Transition: American Realistic Drama in the Commercial

Theater, 1890-1915                                                                                                86

The Cutting Edge: Eugene O'Neill's Realism, 1913-1933                                112

Place and Personality: Innovations in Realistic Setting and

Character, 1916-1940                                                                                            132

The Final Integration: Innovations in Realistic Thought and

Structure, 1916-1940                                                                                            162


Selected Bibliography                                                                                        210

Index                                                                                                                       227

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