From Opposition to Integration: Stages in the Development of the "New Woman" in Selected Provincetown Plays


  • Susanne Auflitsch



This essay argues that the nineteenth-century philosophy of bi-polarity, as manifest first and foremost in the concept of separate spheres, is still largely unaltered in the short plays of Susan Glaspell, Neith Boyce and Rita Wellman, the three most prolific female playwrights among the Provincetown Players. The plays analyzed in this paper include Glaspell's "Trifles" (1916), "The Outside" (1917), and her short comedy "A Woman's Honor" (1918), Wellman's "Funiculi Funicula" (1917)¹ and Boyce's "Constancy" (1915), "The Two Sons" (1916), and "Enemies" (1915), the latter of which Boyce co-authored with her husband. Although the artistic merit of these short plays has often been challenged, they deserve recognition as important literary, cultural and social documents that reflect sincere attempts to fuse theatrical originality with social concerns. The cultural and social aspect in focus here is the New Woman. In spite of depicting more or less successful representatives of the New Woman, the worlds presented on stage are marked by the established polar categories. Although displaying the ambitions of the New Woman, the female characters are trapped in polarized worlds. 

1. Wellman's short play "Funiculi Funicula" is one of the very few Provincetown plays to have won some critical appraisal; Barlow regards it as "one of the most disturbing if not best written plays of the group." (Barlow 1995:281).


Author Biography

Susanne Auflitsch

Curriculum Vitae1982-1986Volksschule St. Walburg, Eichstätt, Germany1986-1995Gabrieli-Gymnasium, Eichstätt, Germany; Abitur1995-1996Katholische Universität Eichstätt, Germany1996-2000Universität Regensburg, GermanyMarch - April 1997Intermediate Examinations at the University of Regensburg in the subjects German and EnglishApril - June 1997Undergraduate Visiting Student at the University of Reading, UK2000First State Examination in German and English (Lehramt Gymnasium)March 2001-Doctoral Candidate in American Studies at the University of Regensburg, GermanySeptember 2001- July 2002Graduate Visiting Student at the University of Oxford (Brasenose College), United KingdomAugust - October 2003Research for dissertation at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA   Current WorkDoctoral Candidate, American Studies, University of Regensburg; Thesis: "Producing Gendered Spaces in One-Act Plays by American Women Playwrights, 1910-1930"Research Assistant, American Studies, University of RegensburgEditorial Assistant, Amerikastudien/American Studies, ed. U. Hebel   Previous Employment-1997: Tutor at the German Department (Linguistics) at the University of Regensburg, Germany-1998-2000: Research Assistant at the American Studies Department at the University of Regensburg, Germany-2001-2002: Instructor of German as a Foreign Language at BMW Plant -Oxford and at Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom-10/2002 - 7/2003: Instructor in American Studies at the University of -Regensburg, Germany   Scholarships and AwardsNovember 1995 - December 2000: Scholarship for Highly Talented Students by the Bavarian Ministry of Education (= Stipendium des Freistaates Bayern für besonders Begabte)August 1996: Summer Scholarship by the Spanish Foreign Ministry (= Beca de Verano de la Dirección General de Relaciones Culturales y Científicas del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores)May 2001: Award for Final Dissertation in American Literature by the Dr.-Katharina-Sailer-Stiftung, University of RegensburgMarch 2003: Award for Graduate Studies, Bavarian- -American AcademyAugust - October 2003: Fellowship of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for Ph.D. research studies at Harvard UniversityDecember 2003 - July 2004: Doctoral Grant "Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsprogramm zur Förderung der Chancengleichheit von Frauen in Forschung und Lehre" (HWP)Publication"Beth Henley's Early Family Plays: Dysfunctional Parenting, the South, and Feminism." Amerikastudien / American Studies 46 (2001): 267-280."Geschlechterspezifische Raumstrukturen in amerikanischen Einaktern" (forthcoming)   MembershipsGerman Association for American Studies (DGfA)British Association for American Studies (BAAS)Bavarian Philological Society / Bayerischer Philologenverband (BPV)Oxford University Drama Society (OUDS)


How to Cite

Auflitsch, Susanne. “From Opposition to Integration: Stages in the Development of the ‘New Woman’ in Selected Provincetown Plays”. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, vol. 4, Mar. 2012, doi:10.5283/copas.71.