Chapter 29. Drama in American Culture

  1. Paul Lauter president
  1. Brenda Murphy Professor

Published Online: 16 MAR 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444320626.ch29

A Companion to American Literature and Culture

A Companion to American Literature and Culture

How to Cite

Murphy, B. (2010) Drama in American Culture, in A Companion to American Literature and Culture (ed P. Lauter), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444320626.ch29

Editor Information

  1. Trinity College (Hartford), UK

Author Information

  1. University of Connecticut, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 16 MAR 2010
  2. Published Print: 26 MAR 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780631208921

Online ISBN: 9781444320626



  • drama in American culture;
  • relationship between theater and larger American culture - contentious from the beginning;
  • American colonies, Ye Bear and Ye Cubb by William Darby - staged in Virginia in 1665;
  • In The Contrast, binary opposition between manly, rural American virtue and effeminate, urban, old-world vice;
  • embodying the Romantic notions about powers of nature - to ennoble articulated in Washington Irving's essay on “Indian Character” in The Sketch Book (1819);
  • Louisa Medina's popular adaptation of Robert Montgomery Bird's Nick of the Woods (1839) - glorifying the frontiersman and signaling a new attitude toward the Indians;
  • Howells, valuing Harrigan most as a transitional figure - toward the introduction of serious dramatic Realism;
  • identity politics, taking center stage in American theater - as politics of gender, sexual identity and ethnicity;
  • epidemic of AIDS, sub-genre of plays about disease and its effects on victims and society


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Notes

  • References and Further Reading