Chestertown, MD, April 21, 2005 — Washington College's Sophie Kerr Committee presents “Strange Bedfellows: Susan Glaspell and the First Greenwich Village Avant-Garde,” a lecture by Linda Ben-Zvi, Professor of Theater Studies at Tel Aviv University, Wednesday, April 27, at 4:30 p.m. in the Sophie Kerr Room, Miller Library. The talk is free and open to the public.
Called a “venturesome feminist” by historian Nancy Cott, Susan Glaspell (1876-1948) is acknowledged as America's first important modern female playwright. Winner of the 1931 Pulitzer Prize for drama—and one of the most respected novelists and short story writers of her time—Glaspell created intrepid female characters and explored topics such as women's suffrage, birth control, female sexuality, marriage equality, socialism, and pacifism. A journalist by age eighteen, Glaspell migrated with her husband to New York's Greenwich Village, where the first American avant-garde was blossoming. Throughout her life, Glaspell was always willing to speak out for those causes in which she believed and willing to risk societal approbation for the sake of personal exploration.
Linda Ben-Zvi has published widely on modern and contemporary drama. Her books includeSamuel Beckett, Women in Beckett, Susan Glaspell: Essays on her Theatre and Fiction,Theatre in Israel, and Susan Glaspell: Her Life and Times. She has edited Glaspell's The Road to the Temple and is co-editing, with J. Ellen Gainor, The Complete Plays of Susan Glaspell. She currently serves as editor of Assaph, the Tel Aviv University English language theatre journal, and president of the International Samuel Beckett Society.
The talk is sponsored by the Sophie Kerr Committee, which works to carry on the legacy of the late Sophie Kerr, a writer from Denton, Md., whose generosity has done so much to enrich Washington College's literary culture. When she died in 1965, Kerr left the bulk of her estate to the College, specifying that one half of the income from her bequest be awarded every year to the senior showing the most “ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor” and the other half be used to bring visiting writers to campus, to fund scholarships, and to help defray the costs of student publications.