Abbotson, Susan C.W. 1961-
Abbotson, Susan C.W. 1961-
(Susan Claire Whitfield Abbotson)
Born November 21, 1961, in Liverpool, England; daughter of Cecil Charles (a teacher) and Joan Mary (a secretary; maiden name, Johnson) Abbotson; married David Zane Wasser (in educational technology), August 27, 1995; children: Rachel Elizabeth Ida, Harry Charles, Brenda Mali. Ethnicity: "Anglo-Saxon." Education: Loughborough University of Technology, B.A. (honors), 1983; State University of New York College at Brockport, M.A., 1984; University of Bristol, postgraduate certificate of education, 1985; University of Connecticut, Ph.D., 1998. Politics: "Humanitarian." Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Theater, film, the ukulele.
Writer and educator. English teacher at a grammar school in Aston, Birmingham, England, 1985-90; University of Connecticut, Storrs, teaching assistant, 1990-97; Johnson and Wales University, Providence, RI, adjunct professor of English, 1998-99; Rhode Island College, Providence, adjunct professor of English, 1999—. Highbury Little Theater, actress and stage designer, 1986-90; Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum, member of board of directors, 1997—.
Modern Language Association of America, American Theater and Drama Society, Arthur Miller Society (Web site designer and administrator, 1998—; vice president, 1998-2000; president, 2000-02), South Atlantic Modern Language Association.
(With Brenda Murphy) Understanding "Death of a Salesman," Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1999.
Student Companion to Arthur Miller, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2000.
Thematic Guide to Modern Drama, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2003.
Masterpieces of Twentieth Century American Drama, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2005.
A Critical Companion to Arthur Miller, Facts on File (New York, NY), in press.
Contributor to books, including The Cambridge Companion to Sam Shepard, edited by Matthew Roudané, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2002; Miller in Middle America, edited by Paula Langteau, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 2006; and Arthur Miller: Twentieth Century Legend, edited by M.A. Syed, Surabhi Publications (Jaipur, India), 2005. Contributor of articles and reviews to academic journals, including Modern Drama, Journal of American Drama and Theater, American Drama, English Studies, and South Atlantic Review. Newsletter editor, Arthur Miller Society, 2002—.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
An encyclopedic study of Arthur Miller and his work, publication expected in 2006; books on Miller's later plays and on the twentieth-century works of August Wilson; research on children's and adolescent literature, the short story, and Holocaust literature.
Susan C.W. Abbotson told CA: "I am primarily a literary scholar in the field of drama and American literature. I come from a family background of teaching, and even as a child I was always the one who would try to explain things. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would be an English teacher.
"I began teaching at a secondary school in the United Kingdom but, finding myself drawn to the promise of a deeper literary debate, I moved to America to pursue my doctorate and teach at the university level. Since then I have devoted what spare time I have between teaching, conferences, committee work, and raising three children to writing critical texts with which I hope to spark a response, especially in newer readers, by making my readings as clear and accessible as possible. With a mix of literary/critical approaches (for to devote oneself to any single approach necessarily reduces the potential of the text), I try to draw out the possibilities within a text, rather than offer any definitive reading.
"I came to study in America because of a particular interest in American literature. The relative newness of it seemed appealing, and I felt that coming from outside American culture perhaps allowed me to view it more objectively. I have always loved drama as a literary genre and was for many years involved with amateur dramatics in the United Kingdom. My attraction to drama as literature is partly because it is sadly the most neglected form, despite it being the most vital, and needs all the champions it can get. I was drawn to Arthur Miller, on whom I have specialized for the same reasons: here was an amazingly diverse and complex playwright who had been virtually dismissed by his own country for decades. Fortunately that attitude is now changing as more critics and theater-goers are looking more closely at the tremendous body of work he produced.
"I am often asked by people what relevance the study of literature has on anyone's life. Through the books I write I hope to show that relevance and bring readers to the understanding that literature encodes all they need to better understand themselves, society, the future, and the past. Literature and its study enlarges the mind, and that, surely, must be an end in itself."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Modern Drama, summer, 2001, Jonathan Chambers, review of Student Companion to Arthur Miller, p. 257.
School Library Journal, November, 2000, Susan Shaver, review of Student Companion to Arthur Miller, p. 166.