Cover image for Staging masculinity : male identity in contemporary American drama
Staging masculinity : male identity in contemporary American drama
McDonough, Carla J., 1963-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., [1997]

Physical Description:
vi, 186 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS338.M46 M33 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The men in plays such as Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman or Sam Shepard's True West are often presented as universal, with little attention given to their gender. Instead, their stories are viewed by author and critic as encompassing dynamics relevant to humanity rather than specifically to men. This study explores how masculinity is presented in the works of such leading male playwrights as Shepard, Miller, Eugene O'Neill, David Mamet, David Rabe, and August Wilson. It becomes apparent that male playwrights return often to the issues of troubled manhood, usually masked in other issues such as business or family. The plays indicate both the attractiveness of traditional masculinity and the illusive nature of this image, which all too often fractures and fails the characters who pursue it.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

As the introduction to this study asserts, the dominance of issues related to the question of--and assertion of--masculinity in American theater has been so long taken as a given that it is only relatively recently that the topic has received much serious study, quite often by female critics. The present volume leads off with sections devoted to forerunners of contemporary American theater--O'Neill, Williams, Miller, and Baraka (conspicuously absent is Edward Albee). McDonough gives considerably more space to the playwrights who are her main focus: Sam Shepard, David Mamet, David Rabe, and August Wilson. These are eminently sensible choices--perhaps even inevitable ones--and they provide richly judicious contrasts. By way of coda, the author briefly considers such figures as Tony Kushner and David Henry Hwang. This is a physically slim but tightly typeset book, and its presence on library shelves will show how successfully its contents dovetail with those of the small but burgeoning number of related studies published in only a few recent years. The accompanying bibliography is fuller than one might expect, helping make this a challenging critical resource for those interested in a vitally important aspect of the theater of the late 20th century. J. M. Ditsky University of Windsor