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Look Inside Sisters in Sin

Sisters in Sin
Brothel Drama in America, 1900–1920


Part of Cambridge Studies in American Theatre and Drama

  • Date Published: March 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521105132

£ 23.99

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About the Authors
  • The prostitute, and her sister in sin - the so-called 'fallen' woman - were veritable obsessions of American Progressive Era culture. Their cumulative presence, in scores of controversial theatrical productions, demonstrates the repeated obsession with the prostitute figure in both highbrow and lowbrow entertainments. As the first extended examination of such dramas during the Progressive Era, Sisters in Sin recovers a slice of theatre history in demonstrating that the prostitute was central to American realist theatre. Such plays about prostitutes were so popular that they constituted a forgotten genre - the brothel play. The brothel drama's stunning success reveals much about early twentieth-century American anxieties about sexuality, contagion, eugenics, women's rights and urbanization. Introducing previously unexamined archival documents and unpublished play scripts, this original study argues that the body of the prostitute was a corporeal site upon which modernist desires and cultural imperatives were mapped.

    • Introduces several unpublished plays by major dramatists and popular writers, and recovers the forgotten genre of brothel drama
    • Offers performance theory as well as feminist and cultural analysis of previous historical material to reinterpret theatre history and performance
    • Presents original arguments on censorship, the formation of American modern realist theatre and women's sexuality
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… a monograph that affords moments of sudden insight is a rare pleasure … On the basis of prodigious research introducing previously unexamined archival materials, Johnson provides the prospective readers with surprising historical details, new literary insights, and brilliant sociocultural analysis. Her book will be an eye-opener for Americanists of various disciplinary persuasions.' Amerikastudien

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521105132
    • length: 280 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • contains: 11 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: The Brothel Drama
    Part I. The Female Performer as Prostitute:
    1. Zaza: that 'obtruding harlot' of the stage
    2. That 'sin-stained' Sapho
    3. The Easiest Way and the actress-as-whore myth
    Part II. Working Girls:
    4. The shop girl: working girl dramas
    5. The girl shop: Mrs Warren's Profession
    Part III. Opium Dens and Urban Brothels: Staging the White Slave:
    6. White slave plays in progressive American theatre
    7. Brothel anyone? Laundering the 1913–14 white slave season
    Part IV. The Legitimation and Decline of the Brothel Drama:
    8. Damaged Goods: sex hysteria and the Prostitute Fatale
    9. The repentant courtesan in Anna Christie and the lesbian prostitute in The God of Vengeance.

  • Author

    Katie N. Johnson, Miami University
    Katie N. Johnson specializes in theatre, film, and gender studies in the English Department at Miami University of Ohio where she is Associate Professor. In 2003, she was awarded the Gerald Kahan Award for best essay in the field of theatre studies by a younger scholar. Her work has appeared in Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, the Journal of American Drama and Research, American Drama, The Eugene O'Neill Review, The American Transcendental Quarterly, and the Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History.

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