Article about how "The Crucible" has stood the test of time?
February 22, 2011 7:02 PM   Subscribe

Looking for any peer-reviewed article about modern critical response to Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" (No, I'm not asking you to do my homework, trust me.)

I have access (through my university) to most of the scholarly journals out there. I want to do some work with my high-school students about how criticism of "The Crucible" has changed from when it premiered on Broadway in 1953, to how it is revered as a classic today, by giving them a contemporary review of the play (I have several), and then a modern article or essay about how the play grew from living in the shadow of "Death of a Salesman," to being revered as one of the classics of American theater. I didn't think this kind of piece would be difficult to find; apparently, I am so very wrong (or I have the worst journal database-searching skills known to man).

If anyone can point me in the right direction, I'd appreciate it. You're not creating my lesson plan, or determining what I'll be doing; you're just helping me find an item I want to use.
posted by tzikeh to Education (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This book should fix you up. (Another Harold Bloom joint!)
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:12 PM on February 22, 2011

Well, what you are talking about isn't exactly what most research literature does. What it sounds like you want is an overview of the kind you'd find in an academic encyclopedia. Journal articles are going to focus on a pretty narrow topic or aspect and present new information, not present a timeline.

The database 'Literature Resource Center' from the publisher Gale should have just what you want--an overview of the major issues in the play and criticism and how it has evolved. If your library doesn't have that, look for Master Plots. If that doesn't work, look up a critical edition of the play or a book about Miller; the introduction should cover this very issue.

And, yeah, this question is being answered by a librarian. You should use yours at your university!
posted by bluedaisy at 8:08 PM on February 22, 2011

Check your students' public library for something like Twentieth Century Literary Criticism (20+ volumes) or one of the associated sets. If you have access to the print copies (CPL has them), go the latest volume and check the index. The index cross-references not only all the volumes of that set but all the other sets. CPL doesn't subscribe to the online version (Literature Resource Center), but they have something called Literary Reference Center, which seems to do the same thing.
posted by bentley at 9:30 PM on February 22, 2011

Best answer: I think what you're looking for is a "reception history" of The Crucible.

This guy's cv [PDF] mentions that he directed an undergraduate thesis that was a reception history of The Crucible. It wouldn't be peer reviewed, but you might be able to get a copy from the BYU library, or by tracking down the (former) student who wrote it.

If your university library has access to the major databases in the field (I think MLA Bibliography and ABELL are the big ones; apparently Literature Online also searches ABELL), you may be able to find something peer reviewed; you can also try searching for a reception history of Arthur Miller's work more generally.

Reception history (like bibliography) is a form of basic research that is, notwithstanding its importance, just not very hot in the literary field right now. You can find solid reception histories—many of them done ten, twenty, or thirty years ago—of some major works or authors, but not others.
posted by Orinda at 10:51 PM on February 22, 2011

Response by poster: That's really helpful information, Orinda - thanks! I didn't know there was an official term for that kind of study.
posted by tzikeh at 11:23 AM on February 23, 2011

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