Academic journal article Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA)

Entertaining the Nation: American Drama in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Academic journal article Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA)

Entertaining the Nation: American Drama in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Article excerpt

Entertaining the Nation: American Drama in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries Tice L. Miller. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2007.

All cultures need action, either mental or some kind of external activity. America, because of its size, mixture of cultures and mental gymnastics has demanded and produced an extraordinary amount of both. Both kinds reflect aspects of the past and present that often has been reduced to mere laughter. Miller tries to put substance in the amusement. His thesis is that though everybody talks about history many people do nothing about learning it, especially in the many dramatic presents that have animated our theaters before the present day: "The purpose of this book is to provide an introduction to a lot of unread and unloved plays with the hope that students will become excited by their possibilities and want to investigate them on their own" (xi). The results may astound the average student, and many instructors. Colonists were Englishers before they were Americans. In their luggage and their heads on the trip over from England they brought English literary and theatrical culture. Shakespeare became the most important English playwright and philosopher after his works became known in this country. A New York production of Romeo and Juliet in 1730 is the first known performance of Shakespeare in America. …

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