The cemetery is often portrayed in literary and cultural works as a heterotopic site for the other, awash in gothic or melodramatic features. This essay argues that Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters and act 3 of Thornton Wilder's Our Town offer something quite different, a cemetery that invites people to use it as public space. After a historical overview of the American burial ground, the essay positions the cemetery in the current debate on public space. As the epitaphs of Spoon River and act 3 of Our Town typify, the cemetery is a contested site, open to constant negotiation and redefinition by the people who use it.

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