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CFP for MATC, Progressive Era Chaos

Posted By Max Shulman, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Thursday, August 28, 2014

Call for Papers


The Productive Chaos of the Progressive Era


Mid-American Theater Conference

Kansas City, Missouri

March 19-22, 2015


During the Progressive Era (1890-1920), metropolitan centers such as New York City underwent significant transformation.  New immigration, the concentration of diverse ethnic groups into geographically-contained slum districts, the increasing stratification of classes, the rise of slumming as a spectacle of entertainment, the beginning of the Settlement House Movement and the Social Gospel Movement all contributed to a redefined urban landscape. Changes like these inspired an assortment of competing and even contradictory theatrical performances and productions, including immigrant theaters (Jacob Gordin’s Yiddish theater), vaudeville (Lew Bloom’s “The Tramp”), and Broadway (Edward Sheldon’s Salvation Nell) for very different theatergoing audiences. What, by extension, did these performances/productions inspire?


This panel proposes to explore the ambiguities and contradictions which functioned as fodder for creative energies in the overlapping venues of Broadway, vaudeville, and immigrant theaters. What did they inspire in terms of characters, narratives, and performance styles? What did they contribute in terms of changing epistemological and ideological definitions of class and poverty, ethnicity and nativism, gender and sexuality, temperance and intemperance, and literature and leisure? Finally, what/whom did they inspire in the playwrights and theater companies that came after them? We welcome presentations that consider these ambiguities during the Progressive Era in terms of theater history, performance studies, reception theory, and cultural studies.


Please send 250-word abstracts to Max Shulman ( by October 1, 2014.


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