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The American Clock, by Arthur Miller: epic form and Great Depression

Grant number: 12/17630-4
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2013
Effective date (End): December 31, 2016
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Literature - Modern Foreign Literatures
Principal Investigator:Maria Sílvia Betti
Grantee:Éwerton Silva de Oliveira
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


The project has as an objective the analysis of the epic traces present in the structure of The American Clock (1980), by the American playwright Arthur Miller (1915-2005). The play represents the economic decadence of Lee Baum and his family during the Great Depression era, which devastated The United States after the 1929 crisis, persisting during the 1930s. Lee Baum (among other characters) acts, comments and narrates, at the same time, the economic problems present around him, which led thousands of people to experience misery in this period. The presence of narratives and commentaries is an example of an epic trace that differentiates the form of the play from the dramatic form, based on the present action in progress, and not on the narration and the past. As it was said, these commentaries made by characters-narrators are related to the American history (in special, about the 1929 crisis), and not to their private lives; thus, the objective of the project is exactly to examine how the form of the play (with its epic traces) represents this historical period (The 1920s - 1930s). For the analysis of these formal elements, the studies of Rosenfeld [2006], Szondi [2001] and Sarrazac [2002] will be used. Besides this, the 1929 crisis theme in a 1980 play may implicitly indicate Miller's attempt to study the possible relation between these two historical periods, and it should be investigated. The hypothesis present in this project is the idea that the analysis of this play may reveal important aspects to a better comprehension of Miller's theatrical poetics, which has few studies if compared to the period before After the Fall (1964). Miller himself indicates, in his essays, the presence of epic traces in The American Clock, what is one more aspect that transforms it in an essential play to the analysis of the representative and formal structures used by the American playwright. These structures were extremely important for the Brazilian theater, for names such as Augusto Boal, Jorge Andrade and Vianinha. (AU)

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Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
OLIVEIRA, Éwerton Silva de. Arthur Millers The American Clock: Epic form and Great Depression. 2017. Doctoral Thesis - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH/SBD) São Paulo.

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