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Sisters in Sin:  Brothel Drama in America, 1900-1920

Sisters in Sin: Brothel Drama in America, 1900-1920
Katie N. Johnson
Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2006
PS350 .J64 2006

The prostitute and her sister in sin - the so-called "fallen woman" - were veritable obsessions of American Progressive Era culture. Their cumulative presence, in scores of controversial theatrical productions, demonstrates the repeated obsession with the prostitute figure in both highbrow and lowbrow entertainments. As the first extended examination of such dramas during the Progressive Era, Sisters in Sin recovers a slice of theatre history in demonstrating that the prostitute was central to the development of American realist theatre. Plays about prostitutes were so popular that they constituted a forgotten genre - the brothel drama. The brothel drama's stunning success reveals much about early twentieth-century American anxieties about sexuality, eugenics, contagion, women's rights, and urbanization. Introducing previously unexamined archival documents and unpublished play scripts, this original study argues that the body of the prostitute was a corporeal site upon which modernist desires and cultural imperatives were mapped.

Quoted from dustjacket.