Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Fall 2007 Newsletter

Current Exhibitions

Upset man sitting at table

Lee J. Cobb as Willy in the original productionof
Death of a Salesman, 1949. Photo by Fred Fehl.

Rehearsing the American Dream: Arthur Miller's Theater
Through December 30, 2007

The work of American playwright Arthur Miller (1915-2005) demonstrates an unparalleled dialogue with its historical moment. Through such enduring plays as Death of a Salesman and The Crucible, he articulated a politics of freedom that appealed directly to the public conscience. This dialogue was never simplistic or topical, one of the reasons that his work has remained such a significant part of the staged canon. These plays compellingly married the emotional and psychological elements of character with concerns about public and political morality to lay bare the promises and pitfalls of the American dream. Miller used theater to interpret America to itself and the world. The exhibition uses Miller's plays to explore history, conscience, and the American dream in its theatrical expression: as an intertwined and interdependent experience of life that is at once political and emotional.

Three men dressed in nautical costumes

W. H. Franklin, Heroes of the Goodwin Sands,
ca. 1890.

Dress Up: Portrait and Performance in Victorian Photography
Through December 30, 2007

Dress Up explores Victorian culture through the period's fascination with with the then new medium of photography. The Victorians embraced the blending of fiction with fact, so portrait and genre photographs of the period often reveal vivid artifice and unconcealed theatricality. Most Victorian photography took place in highly controlled settings such as the photographer's studio. Backdrops, costumes, gesture and props became elements of identity, regardless of whether the photographer's purpose was commercial portraiture, documentary photography, or fine art. In true Victorian fashion, all of these subjects are "playing" roles, with many images occupying a middle ground between the extremes of theatricality and identity.  

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