Looks at post-war American drama by women, bridging the gap between theatrical theory and feminist theory

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Feminist Theories Paying Attention to Women 1
Feminist Literary Criticism The Resisting Reader 21
Feminist Anthropology The Exchange of Women 39
Feminist Psychology MotherDaughter Bonding 57
Feminist Film Theory Man as Bearer of the Look and the Representation of Women 75
Moving Ahead 93
Notes 99
Bibliography 117
Index 137


Feminist Theories for Dramatic Criticism provides a number of useful approaches for analyzing works for the stage from a feminist perspective. Each chapter outlines key feminist theories in a specific field, covering literary criticisms, anthropology, psychology, and film, and then applies these theories in a detailed criticism of one or two plays. Plays by Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller, Lillian Hellman, Jane Bowles, Sam Shepard, and Alice Childress—all produced after World War II—are reexamined through the lenses of feminist theorist Judith Fetterley, Gayle Rubin, Nancy Chodorow, and Laura Mulvey, each a key figure in her respective field.

The introduction provides a framework for the discussion of feminist dramatic criticism by presenting the multiple political perspectives within feminism. The contributions of black and lesbian feminists to the question of theory are explored, as are the evolutionary stages of feminist criticism as they have been occurring in other fields. Theater has been slower than most fields to move through these stages, and its trajectory thus far is briefly traced. For the sake of clarity, each of the central chapters treats theories from a particular discipline, but the conclusion reminds us that in practice the theories are most often combined.

The book will appeal to theater scholars and practitioners interested in finding their way into feminist theory for the first time, or in expanding their knowledge of its insights for use in teaching, research, and production. Those in women's studies and other fields will find it shows ways to include plays among the texts they analyze.

Gayle Austing is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Georgia State University. She has been executive director of the Southeast Playwrights Project and literary consultant for The Women's Project in New York and has published numerous articles on feminist dramatic criticism.