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 Introducing previously unexamined archival documents and unpublished play scripts, this original study argues that the body of the prostitute was a corporeal site upon which modernist desires and cultural imperatives were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.Read more
- Introduces several unpublished plays by major dramatists and popular writers, and recovers the forgotten genre of brothel drama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
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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- 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.
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