Sam Shepard

Sam Shepard, 1943–2017, one of the major American playwrights and actors of his era, b. Fort Sheridan, Ill., as Samuel Shepard Rogers 3d. A product of the 1960s counterculture and an important figure in that era's Off-Broadway movement, Shepard combined wild humor, grotesque satire, myth, and a sparse, haunting language evocative of Western movies to create a subversive vision of America. His settings are often a kind of nowhere land on the American Plains, his characters are typically loners and drifters caught between a mythical past and the mechanized present, and his works often portray the darker aspects of deeply troubled families. His many plays include Curse of the Starving Class (1977), Buried Child (1978; Pulitzer Prize), True West (1980), A Lie of the Mind (1985), States of Shock (1991), Simpatico (1994), The Late Henry Moss (2000), The God of Hell (2004), and Particle of Dread (2014), his last. Shepard also wrote the screenplays for The Right Stuff (1983), in which he played the part of Chuck Yeager, and Paris, Texas (1984); wrote and directed Far North (1989) and Silent Tongue (1994); and acted in more than 50 films. His prose works include the stories, meditations, reminiscences, and other pieces collected in Motel Chronicles (1982), Cruising Paradise (1996), Great Dream of Heaven (2002), and Day Out of Days (2010), as well as the autobiographically based novellas The One Inside (2017) and Spy of the First Person (2017); the last concerns an old man dying of a degenerative disease, his diminishing life interspersed with memories of the past.

See biographies by D. Shewey (1997) and J. J. Winters (2017).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Sam Shepard: Selected full-text books and articles

Understanding Sam Shepard By James A. Crank University of South Carolina Press, 2012
The Cambridge Companion to Sam Shepard By Matthew Roudané Cambridge University Press, 2002
Buried Child By Shepard, Sam American Theatre, Vol. 13, No. 7, September 1996
The Literary West: An Anthology of Western American Literature By Thomas J. Lyon Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian's tip: "True West" by Sam Shepard begins on p. 248
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
Literary Allusions in Sam Shepard's Buried Child By Cadullo, Bert Notes on Contemporary Literature, Vol. 39, No. 5, November 2009
Shhhhhhame: Silencing the Family Secret in Sam Shepard's Buried Child By Opipari, Benjamin Style, Vol. 44, No. 1-2, Spring-Summer 2010
The Absent Father in Modern Drama By Paul Rosefeldt Peter Lang, 1996
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Sam Shepard begins on p. 51
Beyond Naturalism: A New Realism in American Theatre By William W. Demastes Greenwood Press, 1988
Librarian's tip: Chap. Four "Sam Shepard's Realistic Drama"
Realism and the American Dramatic Tradition By William W. Demastes University of Alabama Press, 1996
Librarian's tip: Chap. Sixteen "The Hurlyburly Lies of the Causalist Mind: Chaos and the Realism of Rabe and Shepard"
Critical Angles: European Views of Contemporary American Literature By Marc Chénetier Southern Illinois University Press, 1986
Librarian's tip: "Sam Shepard: Word and Image" begins on p. 208
Staging Difference: Cultural Pluralism in American Theatre and Drama By Marc Maufort Peter Lang, 1995
Librarian's tip: "Sam Shepard's Inter/National Stage" begins on p. 157
Sam Shepard's Identity Dance By Shewey, Don American Theatre, Vol. 14, No. 6, July-August 1997
Creating the Self in the Contemporary American Theatre By Robert J. Andreach Southern Illinois University Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Sam Shepard begins on p. 172
Staging the Impossible: The Fantastic Mode in Modern Drama By Patrick D. Murphy Greenwood Press, 1992
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Sam Shepard begins on p. 190
The Dramaturgy of Style: Voice in Short Fiction By Michael Stephens Southern Illinois University Press, 1986
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Sam Shepard begins on p. 241
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