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Approaches to Teaching Miller's Death of a Salesman

Editor(s): Matthew C. Roudané

Pages: xii & 178 pp.
Published: 1995
ISBN: 9780873527279 (cloth)
ISBN: 9780873527286 (paperback)

"This new volume in the MLA's useful, meticulously edited series maintains the high quality established by its predecessors. In fact, the 14 essays, by such scholars as Ruby Cohn, Thomas P. Adler, Barbara Lounsberry, James Hurt, and June Schlueter, in some cases exceed the exacting standards already set.... A balanced, lucid, well-written, and imaginatively conceived and executed book."

"If one were to hazard a guess as to what American play is the most studied at the university level," writes Matthew C. Roudané, "it might not be too fanciful to suggest Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman." As this volume attests, not only is the play extensively taught; it also lends itself to a range of instructional approaches.

The book is divided into two parts. Part 1, "Materials," surveys editions, anthologies, and a large selection of published works on Miller. Part 2, "Approaches," comprises fourteen concise, helpful essays by experienced instructors. The approaches described include considering Death of a Salesman as the "quintessential" American play; focusing on the importance of the stage directions and scenery; comparing Willy Loman with salesmen in plays by O'Neill and Mamet; and reading the play from psychoanalytic, poststructuralist, sociological, and feminist perspectives. The extensive works-cited list at the end of the volume includes audiovisual aids.

Table of Contents

Approaches to Teaching Miller's Death of a Salesman

Matthew C. Roudané


Readings for Students and Teachers
Bibliographies and Checklists
Biographical Dimensions
The Instructor's Library
Critical Studies
Collections of Critical Essays
Text and Performance
Further Selected Readings




Prologue: Arthur Miller and the Modern Stage

Contextualizing Death of a Salesman as an American Play
Susan Harris Smith

Text and Performance

Utilizing the Initial Stage Directions in Death of a Salesman
Alexander G. Gonzalez

Celebrating Stylistic Contradictions: Death of a Salesman from a Theatrical Perspective
Susan C. Haedicke

Miller's Mindscape: A Scenic Approach to Death of a Salesman
Thomas P. Adler

"The Woods Are Burning": Expressionism in Death of a Salesman
Barbara Lounsberry

Critical Concerns

The Dramatist as Salesman: A Rhetorical Analysis of Miller's Intentions and Effects
Martin J. Jacobi

Miller's Use and Modification of the Realist Tradition
William W. Demastes

The Crisis of Authenticity: Death of a Salesman and the Tragic Muse
Stephen Barker

The Sociosymbolic Work of Family in Death of a Salesman
Linda Kintz

Beyond the Male Locker Room: Death of a Salesman from a Feminist Perspective
Jan Balakian

American Myths

Why Willy Is Confused: The Effects of a Paradigm Shift in Death of a Salesman
Paula Marantz Cohen

Family and History in Death of a Salesman
James Hurt

Re-membering Willy's Past: Introducing Postmodern Concerns through Death of a Salesman
June Schlueter


"Oh, God I Hate This Job"
Ruby Cohn

Works Cited


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