Date of Award

Spring 4-24-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Brianna Thompson


In looking at Francis Edward Faragoh’s Pinwheel, Elmer Rice’s The Subway, and Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal, my project examines the three anti-heroines of American Expressionist drama. Often overlooked in favor of the larger German movement, American Expressionism is an under explored but incredibly influential dramatic movement. Specifically looking at the plays from the small movement that center a female protagonist, I develop an understanding of the anti-heroine as a reflection of the modern woman and her role within America’s value driven society. Beginning with Pinwheel, I establish the American expressionist anti-heroine as anti-heroic for her strengthened, sexualized body. Through The Subway, I extend my exploration of the anti-heroine’s sexually deviant body alongside a traditionally motivated, chrononormative mind. Establishing the anti-heroine as subject to a mind and body at odds, I underline her desire to become a character defined by a single role. Considering Machinal as a metatheatrical examination of the expressionist anti-heroine, I join Sophie Treadwell in questioning the role of female protagonists within the genre as all three women gravitate towards releasing themselves from the internal depth typical of a fully formed expressionist protagonist in favor of becoming a stock side-character.

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