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date: 21 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay examines the history of naturalism and expressionism in American drama during the early twentieth century. It explains that both movements were reactions to realism and are both legatees of the social problem play insofar as they expose social problems to view. It describes how American playwrights employed a naturalist stage milieu to render visible the social and material forces of modern life and counterpointed the languages of expression to project the spiritual and psychological angst of living amidst such forces in a program of radical aesthetics. This essay also argues that these movements should be considered as integral to theatre of the period and not merely as outliers to the O’Neill-to-Miller-to-Williams trajectory of American drama.

Keywords: naturalism, expressionism, American drama, realism, social problems

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