Download Censorship of the American Theatre in the Twentieth Century by John H. Houchin PDF

By John H. Houchin

Arguing that theatrical censorship coincides with major demanding situations to non secular, political and cultural traditions, John Houchin explores its influence on twentieth-century American theatre. in addition to the well known instance of the home Un-American actions Committee within the Nineteen Fifties, different nearly both influential occasions affected the process the yankee degree throughout the century. After a precis of censorship in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century the United States, Houchin analyzes key political and theatrical occasions among 1900 and 2000.

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Whatever group controlled the representation of women would also dictate the limits of erotic expression and boundaries of sexual relationships. As the nineteenth century drew to a close, the debate over female representation began to dominate the trajectory of the censorship discourse in the United States. Enter Anthony Comstock, who, just four years after the appearance of Lydia Thompson and her “British Blondes,” became the first federally appointed censor in the history of the United States.

These women were “a disgrace to the dramatic profession” responsible for driving “actresses who love virtue better than money . . ”107 These women, however, signified much more than the exaltation of talentless performers; they were a threat to all American women. Burlesque performers purposefully displayed their bodies – primarily their legs – to enhance their popularity. ”108 Although Logan also objected to the ballet dancers in The Black Crook because their costumes were too revealing, she admitted that the ballerinas at least represented “imps and daemons,” who silently danced and silently exited.

Prostitutes also highlighted the inequities brought on by a patriarchal hierarchy. Although white men enjoyed sexual, political, and economic freedom, the jobs available to women, the places they could go, and the influence they exercised were severely constricted. Finally, prostitutes, in a time of unexplained cholera epidemics and a growing incidence of syphilis, became symbolic of disease. If the theatre were to become a respectable institution, worthy of middle-class patronage, prostitutes (read the “nude women” of burlesque) would have to be banished from the stage, just as they had been removed from the third tier.

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