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Essays on theatre, imagery, books and selves in early modern England>

This book focuses on performance construed in the largest sense, as the deployment of a personal style, as imagery of various kinds, and even as books, which in the early modern era often include strongly performative elements. The chapters in the book fall logically into four groups: on personal style and the construction of the self, on drama, on books, and on the visual arts. Personal style is performative in the simple sense that it is expressive and in the more complex sense that it thereby implies that there is something to express. The book takes a broad view of the question of performance through disguise. Disguises in Elizabethan drama are nearly always presumed to be impenetrable, effectively concealing the self, whereas costume is designed to adorn the self, to make the self more strikingly recognizable. The book considers the changing effects of disguise and costume both on concepts of the self and on assumptions about the kind of reality represented by theater. As a practice that makes performance visible as such, theater is characterized by an ongoing reflection on the very norms that make dramatic performance legible and indeed possible. Images are never more performative in and for a culture than when they offer a view onto the differences through which culture is made.

Theatre and society in nineteenth-century Britain

This book brings together political and cultural historians, theatre and performance scholars, and specialists in the study of popular culture. The essays offer a series of shared and interdisciplinary approaches to the material and conceptual dimensions of ‘performance’ as an analytical category in order to analyse the cultural work of the theatre in the wider realm of public political life in nineteenth-century Britain.

Gladstone, the National Theatre and contested didactics of the stage

5 Performance for imagined ­communities: Gladstone, the National Theatre and contested didactics of the stage Anselm Heinrich O ne of William Gladstone’s most lasting visions for British society was one of social cohesion, and the ‘working man’ played an important part in this. For Gladstone this did not include upward social mobility but it did mean a vision of the working man wishing to improve – ‘to improve his mind, to improve his income and to improve his skills, in roughly equal measure’.1 The working man would still remain a working man – Gladstone did

in Politics, performance and popular culture
The political campaigns of early labour leader

13 Class, performance and socialist politics: the political campaigns of early labour leaders Marcus Morris T he political world of late Victorian Britain was in many ways a dramatic show, with politicians’ campaign performances appealing to a disparate audience. Many politicians conceptualised themselves as performers, including labour and socialist politicians, who are the focus of this chapter. They deliberately sought character types and roles for themselves to play, often along class lines. The use of theatrical techniques, including the manipulation of

in Politics, performance and popular culture
The 1889 dock strike on and off the stage

12 The performance of protest: the 1889 dock strike on and off the stage Janice Norwood T he late 1880s are characterised as the era of ‘New Unionism’ as workers from various trades and industries banded together to demand higher wages and better working conditions against a background of growing socialist feeling. In Parliament a Select Committee of the House of Lords published five reports (1887–90) on the sweating system, a practice that was widely believed to exploit workers and lead to poverty. The East End of London was home to the most notorious of the

in Politics, performance and popular culture

PART II Politics in performance O ne of the continuing appeals of popular theatre, in particular pantomime and melodrama, was topical referencing, allusions to people and events in the news, the latest fads and fashions, popular products and venues, scandals and sensations. But the producers and writers of stage works had to be careful not to invite interference from the censors. From 1737 to 1968 the stage functioned under the oversight of the Lord Chamberlain’s office and had to conform to a strict set of regulations designed to preserve moral standards and

in Politics, performance and popular culture

PART III The performance of politics T he essays in Part II focused on topical referencing – on how theatrical performance, across popular entertainment genres, operated as sites for the transmission, in staged performances, of political ideologies. What becomes clear is the extent to which mass entertainments sought both to reflect and direct popular opinion and how they, in doing so, demonstrated the remarkable reactivity and flexibility of Victorian theatre to act as a location for the mediation of contemporary politics through popular culture. Popular

in Politics, performance and popular culture

PART I Conceptualising performance, theorising politics T he essays in this section span the century chronologically, and cover the principal genres of popular entertainment in the nineteenth century: melodrama and pantomime. They take us from Manchester in the early nineteenth century, after the final defeat of Napoleon in 1815, to Gladstone’s advocacy for a National Theatre at the end of the nineteenth century – and beyond, into the performative ferment of the campaign for female suffrage. In all these essays, theatre and the theatrical are placed in

in Politics, performance and popular culture
Abstract only

This is a volume of essays on performance construed in the largest sense, as theatre and pageantry, as the deployment of a personal style, as imagery of various kinds, and even as books, which in the early modern era often include strongly performative elements. Most of the essays are recent, and five are unpublished. They fall logically into four groups: on personal style and

in Spectacular Performances
Ritual in loyal addressing

correctly could find themselves the object of royal disfavour. Choices about who to get to present addresses and ask to introduce the addressers were also far from straightforward – not only could influential individuals be offended if they were not approached to present or introduce addresses, the choice of presenters and introducers sent out important signals about the political and religious affiliations of the addressers. Critically, these choices and this performance had to be done correctly to secure access to the

in Loyalty, memory and public opinion in England, 1658–​1727