Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Jones, Chris, 1963-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

School of Theatre Arts


Wasserstein; Wendy; Women dramatists; American--Biography; Feminist theater--United States--History; American drama--Women authors--History and criticism; Women in the theater--United States--History


This thesis explores the feminist reaction to the works of Wendy Wasserstein. Wasserstein has had comparative success as an American female playwright in the latter half of the twentieth century. She is the first female playwright to have received a Tony award for her work, The Heidi Chronicles. Plays written by women have a history of being less than commercially successful Wasserstein has achieved commercial success and yet is perceived as ?selling out? her feminist sisters. Feminist dramatic criticism and theory examine the works of playwrights and explain why a work is considered feminist. However, feminist doctrinaires do not appear to approve of Wasserstein?s commercial success. This thesis will: (1) discuss feminist dramatic theory, (2) discuss the life and career of Wasserstein, and (3) discuss and explore the relationship between the works of Wendy Wasserstein and current feminist dramatic theory in order to understand the contradictory relationship between the feminists and Wendy Wasserstein. The life choices Wasserstein has made have affected her life as playwright. Her works always contain an element of humor and are a snapshot of a moment in the life of a strong woman. Her theatrical works have been produced on Broadway, the most coveted arena for any playwright. Nevertheless, Wasserstein continues to receive harsh criticism from her feminist sisters for not hitting the issues hard enough. Feminist dramatic theory argues that liberal feminists are those who work within the constraints of the popular beliefs of society. Wasserstein must, therefore, be a liberal feminist and approach female issues in such a way that she does not offend society as a whole. Unfortunately, her success appears to minimize her abilities in the eyes of those promulgating feminist dramatic theory.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [99]-110).


110 pages




Northern Illinois University

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