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

By John H. Houchin

Arguing that theatrical censorship coincides with major demanding situations to spiritual, political and cultural traditions, John Houchin explores its effect on twentieth-century American theatre. besides the well known instance of the home Un-American actions Committee within the Nineteen Fifties, different virtually both influential occasions affected the process the yank degree through the century. After a precis of censorship in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century the USA, Houchin analyzes key political and theatrical occasions among 1900 and 2000.

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Sample text

There are very few historical events that clearly signal a radical cultural shift. The Astor Place Riot is one such occurrence. It spelled the end of the era of audience sovereignty and resulted in a plethora of laws designed to restrict the audience. The reformation of audiences was not, however, an isolated social phenomenon. It was part of a desire to rehabilitate all of American society and included the moral purity movement, sabbatarianism, temperance, and Sunday-school campaigns. Some supporters of social reform were sincerely interested in the spiritual and material well-being of the working-class poor who were flooding into large east-coast cities.

It was part of a desire to rehabilitate all of American society and included the moral purity movement, sabbatarianism, temperance, and Sunday-school campaigns. Some supporters of social reform were sincerely interested in the spiritual and material well-being of the working-class poor who were flooding into large east-coast cities. Others insisted that the new industrial economy required a sober, disciplined, and dependable work force in order to generate profits. Still others feared that the “masses” intoxicated with dreams of democracy would seize control of all institutions.

At the same time, the commercial sex industry flourished as the glut of male workers and immigrants created a fertile market for brothel owners and independent female entrepreneurs. Middle-class moralists interpreted these cultural shifts as an attack on society’s ethical armature and mounted a series of counteroffensives aimed at keeping Victorian morality firmly in place. They targeted gambling, alcohol, prostitution, immigration, and homosexuality and enlisted the aid of willing public officials who attempted to suppress transgressive behavior.

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