The Ohio State Murders Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of American Literature)

The Ohio State Murders was commissioned by the Great Lakes Theater Festival of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1989. It was directed by Gerald Freedman for the Great Lakes Theater Festival’s thirtieth anniversary season as a part of the nonprofit company’s 1992 Adrienne Kennedy Festival. The play is presented in multiple brief scenes filtered through the memory of the present Suzanne, who acts as narrator. From the stacks of the university library, the writer relives the debasing experiences of Suzanne as a college student from 1949 to 1951.

As a black student, Suzanne is the target of insidious, as well as overt, racism critically destructive to her ego identity. She is told that certain streets are regarded as exclusively white and that an English curriculum is considered too difficult for black people to declare as a major course of study; in the face of such racism, Suzanne’s self-concept deteriorates. She becomes uneasy, anxious, and frightened. Even her white dormitory mates seem to her to be capable of racially motivated murder.

Suzanne’s sole source of joy in her freshman year is a required course on the Victorian novel taught by Robert Hampshire, an unemotional white man in his first year of teaching at Ohio State. Fascinated by Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891), Suzanne begins to draw parallels between her life and the successively restrictive, tragic life of Tess. The present Suzanne concludes that...

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The Ohio State Murders Bibliography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Barnett, Claudia. “An Evasion of Ontology: Being Adrienne Kennedy.” TDR—The Drama Review: A Journal of Performance Studies 49 (Fall, 2005): 157-186.

Betsko, Kathleen, and Rachel Koenig, eds. Interviews with Contemporary Women Playwrights. New York: Beech Tree Books, 1987.

Brown, E. Barnsley. “Passed Over: The Tragic Mulatta and (Dis)Integration of Identity in Adrienne Kennedy’s Plays.” African American Review 35 (Summer, 2001): 281-295.

Bryant-Jackson, Paul K. “Kennedy’s Travelers in the American and African Continuum.” In Black Theatre: Ritual Performance in the Africa Diaspora, edited by Paul Carter Harrison, Victor Leo Walker II, and Gus Edwards. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002.

Bryant-Jackson, Paul K., and Lois More Overbeck, eds. Intersecting Boundaries: The Theatre of Adrienne Kennedy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992.

Diamond, Elin. “Adrienne Kennedy.” In Speaking on Stage: Interviews with Contemporary American Playwrights. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1996.

Harrison, Paul C., ed. Totem Voices: Plays from the Black World Repertory. New York: Grove Press, 1988.

Hurley, Erin. “Blackout: Utopian Technologies in Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro.” Modern Drama 47 (Summer, 2004): 200-218.

Kennedy, Adrienne. People Who Led to My Plays. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1986.

Kintz, Linda. The Subject’s Tragedy: Political Poetics, Feminist Theory, and Drama. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992.

Kolin, Philip C. Understanding Adrienne Kennedy. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2005.