From signing to strangling: Arthur Miller and the national security state

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In 'From Signing to Strangling: Arthur Miller, the Work of Art, and the National Security State', I argue that two of Miller's major plays respond directly to trends in US Cold War politics—but in much more abstract ways than have yet been realized. Far from merely satirizing mores, Miller deployed a historically distinctive politics of authorship which sought to distinguish literary texts from the documents and archives of the security state. When The Crucible (1953) was received primarily as political allegory, Miller was incensed; by focusing on the final scene of the play, I show how John Proctor was meant less as a political, than an aesthetic, dissident. I extend my analysis to Miller's 1964 play After the Fall, which reworks the distinction between artistic and state discourses by way of a vanishing distinction between the marriage of two characters in the play, and Miller's own marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Via two scenes of strangulation, one in each play, Miller's work makes the mournful passage from work to text, from author to writer, consistent with critical understandings of the passage from modern to postmodern literatures. Copyright © 2013 Taylor and Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-384
JournalTextual Practice
Issue number3
Early online dateNov 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Clapp, J. (2014). From signing to strangling: Arthur Miller and the national security state. Textual Practice, 28(3), 365-384. doi: 10.1080/0950236X.2013.844200


  • Arthur Miller
  • National security
  • Politics of authorship
  • Allegory
  • Reception history


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