Witches and Communists: The Crucible and the Cold War | National Humanities Center

Humanities in Class: Webinar Series, Beyond the Monograph

Witches and Communists: The Crucible and the Cold War

Cold War; Pedagogy; Communism; McCarthyism

Florence Dore (Fellow, 2008–09; Fellow, 2016–17)

April 5, 2011

We have long understood The Crucible, ostensibly about the Salem Witch Trials, to “actually” be about McCarthyism, but what more can this play tell us about politics and American identity in the early years of the Cold War? To what extent is the fear of communism the occasion for Miller’s portrayal of American paranoia, and to what extent should we understand McCarthyism as itself the effect of the disorienting global economy? With the twentieth century now over, what new perspectives on this play are available? Do the postwar notions of the individual, community, gender, race, and sexuality as represented in The Crucibleinform how we understand American identity today?


Literature / History / Literary Criticism / Cold War / Pedagogy / Communism / McCarthyism /