Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Course & Subject Guides
Articles and Links
October 5-15, 2017
Richard E. Rauh Studio Theatre
The Our Town pages of this guide were created by Courtney Erin Colligan, Pitt Theatre Arts Phd student.
About Our Town
Thornton Wilder’s 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning play made its debut at Princeton, New Jersey’s McCarter Theater before ultimately moving to the Henry Miller Theatre in New York City. In the New York Times review, Brooks Atkinson called Our Town “one of the finest achievements of the current stage…a hauntingly beautiful play.” Despite the myriad of interpretations of Our Town, most critics agree that the play is a microcosm of the life cycle: “[Wilder] is reminding the audience of how precious daily life is, because it determines our true reality…our enduring identity is not derived from the things and the events because they are familiar and repeated, but from our ever-new, ever-fresh relation to them.” Wilder also demonstrates that these aspects of daily life and their constant renewal are universal to all generations and cultures. While Act I covers “Daily Life,” Act II explores “Love and Marriage.” Once the audience is transported back to George and Emily’s wedding day, they hear various characters’ opinions about marriage, which compels them to make their own judgment and promotes the idea that while marriage may be another part of daily life, “each marriage is different from all the others, and no definition could satisfy everybody.”Our Town’s emphasis on the universality of daily life, conscious audience engagement, and minimalist theatrical style are a few of the signature techniques which have qualified Wilder’s work both at home and abroad as the “most representative and significant product of the modern American theater.”
- from the Thornton Wilder Society
To Realize the Universal by
Publication Date: 2012
By mapping the contour of Thornton Wilder's major plays and novels, this book offers a fresh reading of his deceptively unfashionable art of allegorical narrative, and aims to reaffirm Malcolm Cowley's perspicacious judgment: #65533;(Wilder is) one of the toughest and most complicated minds in contemporary America.#65533; After a review of the history and scholarship of allegory, the author chronologically traces Wilder's extensive, complex and resilient engagement with allegory, a genre employed not only for literary manifestation but for philosophical inquiry. Moving expertly from Wilder's early religious playlets through his Pulitzerwinning fictions and plays to his largely obscure late writings, this study reveals that allegory and Wilder studies are two mutually illuminating topics. What distinguishes Wilder from other modern allegorists is not only his self-reflexive shuttling between the novel and the drama, but his tenacious persistence on pressing for the sublime universality of our mundane experiences in a postsacral world. Overturning the common characterization of Wilder as a preachy voice of Puritan religiosity, this book argues for the centrality of ambiguity that produces nuanced meanings in Wilder's allegorical narratives.
Intertextuality in American Drama by
Call Number: PS350 .I58
Publication Date: 2012
The new essays in this collection, on such diverse writers as Eugene O'Neill, Susan Glaspell, Thornton Wilder, Arthur Miller, Maurine Dallas Watkins, Sophie Treadwell, and Washington Irving, fill an important conceptual gap. The essayists offer numerous approaches to intertextuality: the influence of the poetry of romanticism and Shakespeare and of histories and novels, ideological and political discourses on American playwrights, unlikely connections between such writers as Miller and Wilder, the problems of intertexts in translation, the evolution in historical and performance contexts of the same tale, and the relationships among feminism, the drama of the courtroom, and the drama of the stage. Intertextuality has been an under-explored area in studies of dramatic and performance texts. The innovative findings of these scholars testify to the continuing vitality of research in American drama and performance.
Thornton Wilder by
Call Number: PS3545.I345 Z948
Publication Date: 2002
Harold Bloom prsents a biographical & critical analysis of one of the world's greatest playwrights, Thornton Wilder. This volume includes detailed plot summaries, extracts from critical essays, extensive bibliographical references & a full index of themes & ideas covered in the plays.