Category Archives: Conferences

18th Annual American Literature Association Conference 2007

May 24-27, Boston MA.
Panel: “The Grotesque in the Work of Susan Glaspell, Djuna Barnes, Zora Neal Hurston
and Their Modernist Contemporaries.”
Chair: Mary E. Papke, University of Tennessee.

As Philip Thomson argues in his The Grotesque, the grotesque depends for its effect on disharmony and ambiguity, an interruption of the normal by an eruption of the freakish, the ominous, and the estranged. He goes on to argue that it most often appears in art and literature during periods of great strife, radical change, or profound disorientation, periods, that is, like that of the modernists in which artists responded in their works to both national and international crises and possibilities. The American literary grotesque is exemplified in the work of Edgar Allan Poe and Flannery O’Connor, but it is not totally surprising that it also figures in important ways in the work of early modernists who were determined to break with the sentimental and romantic movements that preceded their emergence and to make of American literature something shockingly new. The grotesque in art is typically defined as work in which the natural and the monstrous are intertwined in bizarre or fanciful combinations; somewhat strangely, then, the grotesque character elicits from the reader both disgust and empathy in that such a character repulses us even as it whets our desire to understand its otherness. In Glaspell’s work, we see the grotesque emerge both in her plays (such as The Verge) and in her novels (Fugitive’s Return, for example), two examples that indicate well the different uses to which the grotesque can be put. Other modernists employ the grotesque in similarly innovative ways.

Papers:  “‘Getting at things in terms of the preposterous’: The Satiric Grotesque in Susan Glaspell’s World War I-Era Stories,” Martha C. Carpentier, Seton Hall University;

“Macabre Revelations: The Grotesque and Eugenics in Glaspell and MacKaye,” Kimberly A. Miller, Fort Hays State University;

“The Grotesque Tradition and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Mary McAleer Balkun, Seton Hall University.

Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference 2006

November 8 – 11, Philadelphia PA.

Panel: “Susan Glaspell and Modernism.”
Chair: Martha C. Carpentier, Seton Hall University.

While Susan Glaspell’s overt feminism and innovative expressionism in plays such as Trifles and The Verge have been widely discussed, the ways in which she continued to explore a modernist aesthetic and express a modernist credo in other works both drama and fiction is less obvious. Glaspell’s well-known comment on Virginia Woolf, “She makes the inner things real . . . . If one could have what she has, or something of it, and have also story, that simple downright human interest,” suggests, not that Glaspell rejected modernism, but that she sought a more nuanced, distinctly American modernist aesthetic. This panel explored Glaspell’s investment in modernism, from its incipient expression in her early fiction, to its full flowering in her Provincetown plays, to its mature melding with fictional realism in her novels of the 30s and 40s.

Papers: “Susan Glaspell’s Lifted Masks: Modernism, Strangeness, and the New Woman,” Drew Eisenhauer, University of Maryland;

“Bonds of Love: Susan Glaspell’s Parodic Revision of the Sentimental Novel,” Sharon Friedman, New York University;

“A Room Not Her Own: The Modern Woman’s Struggle for Space in the Theatre of Susan Glaspell,” Noelia Hernando-Real, Universidad Autnoma de Madrid.

Roundtable: “Trifles and Beyond: Teaching Susan Glaspell”
Chair: Barbara Ozieblo, Universidad de Málaga.

The roundtable discussion examined the teaching of Susan Glaspell’s plays and novels with the intention of spurring faculty to look beyond Trifles and “A Jury of Her Peers,” the two pieces that most commonly appear in anthologies, the classroom, and amateur production. Discussants looked at how Susan Glaspell’s plays, stories, and novels fit into courses on feminism, on modernism and on women writers; how her works can be advantageously used in first-year composition courses, literature courses and graduate courses; how her works fit into other disciplines and how they can be used to exemplify different tendencies in critical theory.

Participants and Topics:

“Glaspell’s Trifles/ ‘A Jury of Her Peers’ in the Composition or Literature Classroom,” Mary Papke, University of Tennessee;

“Teaching Susan Glaspell in Law School,” Patricia L. Bryan, University of North Carolina School of Law;

“Teaching Brook Evans to Graduate and Undergraduates in Courses on Women Writers,” Martha C. Carpentier, Seton Hall University;  

“Teaching and Performing Brook Evans,” Mike Solomonson, Northland Pioneer College;

“Teaching The Outside and The Verge,” Barbara Ozieblo, Universidad de Malaga.

Nora in America: A Staged Reading of Glaspell’s Chains of Dew

Adapted and Directed by Cheryl Black, University of Missouri-Columbia

Readers included (l to r) Judith Barlow as Edith, Martha Carpentier as Mother Standish, Mike Solomonson as Seymore Standish, Basia Ozieblo as Dotty Standish, Drew Eisenhauer as Leon Whittaker, director Cheryl Black, Doug Powers as James O'Brien, and J. Ellen Gainor (not pictured) as Nora Powers.


Stars of the show: nice Amelia, naughty Angelica and little Seymore . . . Mother Standish's dolls, handmade by Martha Carpentier.

Association for Theatre in Higher Education Conference 2006

August 4, Chicago.  ATDS-Sponsored Staged Reading of Susan Glaspell’s Chains of Dew Directed by Cheryl Black, University of Missouri-Columbia

"My dear Dot, you know perfectly well I want you to have the Madonna hanging here. Since you like Madonnas, by all means let her bless our home!"

Cheryl adapted Chains of Dew and added a prologue explicating the historical context and critical reaction to the original production. The performer / discussants were:

Amy Pinney as Nora
Phil Groeschel as Leon
Brett Johnson as O’Brien
Barbara Ozieblo as Dotty Standish
Michael Solomonson as Seymore Standish
Cheryl Black as Mother Standish
Shari Troy as Mrs. MacIntyre
Monica Stufft as Edith

17th Annual American Literature Association Conference 2006

May 25-28, San Francisco CA.
Panel: “Trauma, Grief, and Recovery in the Works of Susan Glaspell.”
Chair: Mary E. Papke, University of Tennessee.

Modernist artists of the 1910s and 1920s famously captured in their work the cultural trauma and mourning of those who lived through World War I. Susan Glaspell throughout her very long career focused on the legacy of that and other wars as well as on a number of other national political traumas and catastrophic individual losses. The range of trauma Glaspell explores is great, from the death of children (for instance, in The Verge), the loss of family (Fugitive’s Return), the loss of self in madness or self-erasure (The Road to the Temple) to the loss of intellectual and political ideals (Inheritors) and the national trauma suffered in wartime (Judd Rankin’s Daughter). This panel explored specific cases of personal and collective trauma, loss, and, in some cases, recovery in the drama and fiction of Susan Glaspell.

Papers:  “Glaspell, Freeman and Twain: Varied Voices in Magazine Fiction, 1913-1918,” Colette Lindroth, Caldwell College;

“Embodied Loss: Absence and Presence in Susan Glaspell’s Inheritors,” Monica Stufft, University of California at Berkeley;

“The Deracinated Self: Immigrants and Orphans in Susan Glaspell’s Fiction,” Martha C. Carpentier, Seton Hall University.

WITASWAN Features Susan Glaspell in 2005

WITASWAN celebrated the 25th anniversary of the release of Sally Heckel’s Oscar-nominated film of “A Jury of Her Peers” in Chicago in March 2005. Sally conducted a post-screening Q&A at the Chicago Cultural Center, followed by a lecture by Patricia Bryan & Tom Wolf (authors of Midnight Assassin: Murder in America’s Heartland).

A few months later, on September 28 2005, Linda Ben-Zvi addressed the Illinois Women’s Press Association at the University Center, Chicago, reading from her new biography Susan Glaspell: Her Life and Times, and also directing students from De Paul University’s Theatre School in selected scenes from Inheritors, Suppressed Desires, and Trifles.

Both events were organized by WITASWAN (Women in the Audience Supporting Women Artists Now), a nationwide initiative dedicated to eliminating the celluloid ceiling that continues to restrict opportunities for women filmmakers, coordinated by Jan Lisa Huttner.

Eugene O’Neill Society 6th International Conference 2005

“Where It All Began,” June 15-20,Provincetown MA.

Susan Glaspell and Eugene O’Neill were brought together again in their beloved Provincetown, as the Susan Glaspell Society participated in the Eugene O’Neill Society’s 6th International Conference, June 15-20, 2005. Linda Ben-Zvi gave the keynote address on Friday June 17, “The Place of Provincetown in Glaspell’s Writing,” and the Glaspell Society hosted a wine-and-cheese reception following the Provincetown Fringe Festival’s second annual Susan Glaspell play-reading marathon on Friday, as well as sponsoring a panel on Saturday and a roundtable on Sunday. Many thanks to O’Neill Society President Zander Brietzke and Vice President Steven Bloom for their warm welcome and the chance for scholars of these two founders of American drama to come together.

Susan Glaspell first came to Provincetown in the summer of 1912. When she married Jig Cook in 1913, they returned and the next year bought a house at 564 Commercial Street that was to be Glaspell’s home for the rest of her life. In Provincetown she found a community of like-minded artists and writers who provided her with the intellectual support and understanding her Davenport, Iowa family and friends were unable to offer. It is, therefore, not surprising that Provincetown, its setting, people, and history played a significant role in her writing. In her presentation Prof. Ben Zvi discussed Glaspell’s life in Provincetown and the ways in which she depicts elements of the locale and specific
residents in her plays and fiction.

Susan Glaspell Society Panel: “New Approaches to Susan Glaspell’s Theatre,” June 18.  Chair: Martha C. Carpentier, Seton Hall University.

Papers: “Susan Glaspell’s ‘The Plea’: Foreshadowing Trifles and Concerns About Law and Justice,” Patricia L. Bryan, University of North Carolina Law School;

“A Trembling Hand, a Rocking Chair, and a Rocking Chair or Kitchen Sink: Glaspell, O’Neill and their Early Dramatic Experiences,” Lucia V. Sander, University of Brasilia;

Woman’s Honor and the Critique of Slander Per Se,” J. Ellen Gainor, Cornell University;  

“Writing for the Provincetown: Glaspell’s ‘New Woman’ in Chains of Dew,” Barbara Ozieblo, University of Malaga.

Susan Glaspell Society Roundtable: “Susan Glaspell in Context,” June 19.  Moderator: Linda Ben-Zvi, Tel Aviv University.

Sunday’s roundtable discussion took place at the Pilgrim Monument museum. Participants Marcia Noe, Cheryl Black, Sally Heckel, J. Ellen Gainor, Sharon Friedman, Basia Ozieblo, and moderator Linda Ben-Zvi held an animated discussion that included audience members and ranged from the future of Glaspell studies to the relationship of Susan Glaspell and husband Jig Cook.

16th Annual American Literature Association Conference 2005

May 26-29, Boston MA.
Panel: “Four Decades of Fiction at the Forefront: Susan Glaspell’s Critique of American Ideology.”
Chair: Martha C. Carpentier, Seton Hall University.

Papers: “Evaluating America: Cultural Commentary in Susan Glaspell’s Magazine Fiction,” Colette Lindroth, Caldwell College;

“Susan Glaspell’s Last Word on Democracy and War,” Mary E. Papke, University of Tennessee;

“Susan Glaspell and the Epistemological Crisis of Modernity: Truth, Knowledge, and Art in Selected Novels,” Kristina Hinz-Bode, Universitat Kassel, Germany.

American Theatre and Drama Society Conference 2005

“Writing, Teaching, Performing America,” March 3-5, University of Kansas, Lawrence KS.
Panel: “Susan Glaspell: Playwright Shaping/Transforming American Identity and Drama.”
Chair: Barbara Ozieblo, Universidad de Málaga.

Papers: “Revisions of Gender and the Lesbian Continuum: Relations Among Women in the Life and Dramatic Works of Susan Glaspell,” Cheryl Black, University of Missouri;

“Woman’s Honor or Virtue Unrewarded: Glaspell’s Parodic Challenge to Ideologies of Sexual Conduct in the Early Decades of the 20th Century,” Sharon Friedman, Gallatin School, New York University;

“Glaspell and the Discourse of American Taste,” J. Ellen Gainor (Cornell University)

“Drama and Cultural Pluralism in the America of Susan Glaspell’s Inheritors,” Noelia Hernando-Real, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid;

“Glaspell’s Modernist New Woman in The Verge and Other Plays,” Barbara Ozieblo, Universidad de Málaga;

“Susan Glaspell and the Politics of Performing Women,” Monica Stufft, University of California, Berkeley.

The Susan Glaspell Society panel at the ATDS/University of Kansas Conference had a good audience and panelists gave papers that opened up new topics for Glaspell research. Cheryl began the session with an investigation of the lesbian continuum in Glaspell’s writing, showing how an understanding of the invention of compulsory hetereosexuality as a political and economic institution in American life can provide us with new insights into her work. Sharon examined Glaspell’s use of parody in Woman’s Honor and argued that it allowed her to think backward at the same time that she thinks forward with ironic critical distance. Ellen Gainor explored the conflicting categories of the commercial and the purely artistic, or the modernist and the avant-garde as applied to Glaspell’s fiction and plays and the consequences of using such labels. Noelia deconstructed Inheritors from the critical stance provided by cultural pluralism and was able to show how Glaspell rethinks the concept of American identity in this play in a way that can only be labeled as radical. Basia (Barbara) looked at Glaspell’s relationship with her audience in Chains of Dew and The Verge, indicating that the different types of protagonist and tones of the two plays reveal a response to her attempt to write for Broadway. The session ended with Monica who explored the communities of women that the theatre brought together, and the new set of possibilities and material and ideological constraints that work for groups such as the Provincetown Players or the Ziegfield Girls offered women.

On Friday evening there was a staged reading of Inheritors, in a version that had been cut and prepared by Iris Fischer, and directed by Erin Jones. Ellen Gainor read Olivia Morton and Isabel Fejevary and, in spite of an oncoming cold, was magnificent. We all agreed that hearing/seeing Inheritors gave us new insights into the play and emphasized its relevance to today’s world and events. The SGS web site provides this version of Inheritors, (see link on Performances page) making the abridged text available for future productions.

Panelists (l to r) Sharon Friedman, Monica Stufft, Basia Ozieblo, Cheryl Black, Noelia Hernando-Real, and J. Ellen Gainor, read their papers

SGS members (l to r) Drew Eisenhauer, Sherry Engle, and Basia Ozieblo

Susan Glaspell Provincetown Play-Reading Marathon 2004

On June 26 The Provincetown Fringe Festival hosted the Susan Glaspell Play-Reading Marathon, where Glaspell scholars had the chance to meet and celebrate Glaspell’s dramatic oeuvre.

Many thanks to Artistic Director Marjorie Conn and Director Karen Maloney for providing this wonderful opportunity for theatre professionals and academic scholars to get together in Glaspell’s beloved Provincetown to read, hear, and discuss Glaspell’s plays. Starting at 12:00 noon we read Trifles and Alison’s House. After a dinner break we returned to read The Outside and The Verge. The event took place at The Provincetown Inn, right on the tip of Cape Cod, very appropriately the actual locus of The Outside. It was, indeed, a marathon, and an exhilarating experience to hear and participate in these
living, moving works.

Visiting Susan’s home at 564 Commercial Street, currently owned by Mr. & Mrs. William Teague, we found the sundial and thought of Susan posing for Jig’s graceful statues:

“I like to remember that winter in Provincetown. The wind would shake the little house on the sand, but we kept the fire bright in the big stove in the dining-room. Jig was modeling the four figures for his sun-dial. Dawn or the dreamer. She who faces the south Noon, the work of the world. Sunset work done, old age, the grave. And the North Star, the beyond-the-sun.” — Road to the Temple, 278.

Sun-dial photos courtesy of Bill Teague, current owner of Glaspell's house in Provincetown

14th Annual American Literature Association Conference 2003

May 22-25, Cambridge MA.
American Theatre and Drama Society Sponsored Panels:
“Disclosing Intertextualities I: The Stories, Plays, and Novels of Susan Glaspell.”
Chair: Barbara Ozieblo, University of Malaga.

Papers: “Susan Glaspell and the Three-Act Novel,” Martha C. Carpentier, Seton Hall University;

Suppressed Desires and Tickless Time: Intertextuality and Modernity in Glaspell’s One-Act Plays,” Marcia Noe, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga;

“Susan Glaspell’s Naturalist Scenarios of Determinism and Blind Faith,” Mary E. Papke, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

“Disclosing Intertextualities II: The Stories, Plays, and Novels of Susan Glaspell.”
Chair: Barbara Ozieblo, University of Malaga.

Papers: “The Narrow House: Glaspell’s Trifles and Wharton’s Ethan Frome,” Susan Koprince, University of North Dakota;

“The Queerness of Susan Glaspell or Misfiring for Life,” Lucia V. Sander, University of Brasilia;

“Re-visioning Susan Glaspell: An Intertextual Reading of The Verge and Strindberg’s A Dream Play,” Monica Stufft, University of California, Berkeley.

After these sessions at the ALA, the Susan Glaspell Society was founded by Martha C. Carpentier, Barbara Ozieblo, Mary E. Papke, Marcia Noe, Lucia V. Sander, and Susan Koprince.