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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.

Popular culture is invariably a vehicle for the dominant ideas of its age. Never was this more true than in the late-19th and early 20th centuries, when it reflected the nationalist and imperialist ideologies current throughout Europe. This book examines the various media through which nationalist ideas were conveyed in late-Victorian and Edwardian times in the theatre, "ethnic" shows, juvenile literature, education and the iconography of popular art. Nineteenth-century music hall was known as the 'fount of patriotism'. A heroic and romantic vision of Empire helped to widen the appeal of British imperialism, which newspaper and magazine editors insisted on communicating to the new mass reading public. Juvenile fiction included Victorian children's books, and very few seemed deliberately anti-imperialist. The book offers a bridge between the pre-1914 period and the interwar years and between the public school and state school systems. It discusses the case of Peter Lobengula as a focus for racial attributes in late Victorian and Edwardian times. The imperial economic vision lay ready to hand for the publicists and public relations men who saw the Empire Marketing Board as one of the great opportunities in the inter-war years to develop their craft. The book also argues that whereas the Scout movement was created in the atmosphere of defensive Empire in the Edwardian period, Scouting ideology underwent a significant change in the post-war years. Girl Guides remind us that the role of girls and women in youth organisations and imperial ideologies has been too little studied.

John Street, Sanna Inthorn, and Martin Scott

2 Politics and popular culture How has popular culture become linked to politics? How is it that a form of life often associated with fun and escapism, and often labelled as ‘mere entertainment’, can be connected with the serious (sometimes deadly serious) world of politics? These questions lie at the heart of this book. Understanding how the two realms of politics and popular culture come to be linked is key to appreciating the issues that are raised by our argument that popular culture can be an important element in political engagement. There are many

in From entertainment to citizenship
John Street, Sanna Inthorn, and Martin Scott

3 Citizenship and popular culture Where the previous chapter explored the traditions of thought that connected politics with popular culture, this one looks in detail at the latter’s relationship with the specifics of citizenship. For many writers it is not a happy relationship. As we have seen, Adorno and Horkheimer, and more recently Robert Putnam, are just a few examples of those who have cast a critical and (more often than not) pessimistic eye on popular culture’s potential to invigorate the public sphere. Together, these writers alert us to the harm that

in From entertainment to citizenship
Spaces and tensions
John Corner

6 Public knowledge and popular culture: spaces and tensions PRELIMINARY NOTE Discussion of the nature and relationship of the ‘public’ and the ‘private’ has been a feature of media research for some time, with ‘private’ both indicating the personal sphere and also, in some usage, the sphere of market-based institutions and activities. I wanted to relate the vulnerable idea of the ‘public’, as a civic commonality, to ideas of the ‘popular’ as these have been changed both in their grounding and their articulation by the cultural industries, which produce popular

in Theorising Media
John Street, Sanna Inthorn, and Martin Scott

4 Researching young people, politics and popular culture The previous chapters have set the context for our investigation into the relationship between popular culture and political engagement. This chapter explains our methodology. It begins with a critical review of the dominant, political communication methodologies whose ‘topdown’ approach, we argue, makes unwarranted assumptions about the habits and tastes of young people and about what does and does not constitute political engagement. We review a number of alternative, ‘bottom-up’ approaches that have

in From entertainment to citizenship
Louise Hill Curth

Chapter 5 - Astrology and popular culture The divine and laudable Science of Astrology, is a Learning that teaches by the Natures, Motions, Configurations, Significations, and Influyences [sic] of the Heavens and Stars therein, how to judge of future Contingencies, or to predict natural Events.1 What we now refer to as astrology has played an important, albeit changing, role in Western society for over two millennia. For centuries, it was regarded as one of two parts of the science of the stars, with astronomy providing the theoretical foundation for

in English almanacs, astrology and popular medicine: 1550–1700
Kevern Verney

Many moons ago when the world was young, and the author of this book was an even younger undergraduate at the University of Cambridge, he was confronted by a question on an examination paper for Part I of the Historical Tripos that began with the statement ‘Popular culture since 1945 has been an excellent way of killing time for those who like it dead.’ Predictably, this assertion was followed by an invitation to ‘discuss’ and, in fairness to my former examiners, such a bold proposition was doubtless intended to prompt vigorous debate. At the same time the

in The Debate on Black Civil Rights in America
Brad Beaven

toured Britain's music halls and concluded that 'there is no disguising the fact that the music-hall is in its way a social factor of some importance. It represents an "amusement of the people" and in this light alone, its probable influence on social life, manners and morals, is worth studying.' 2 This astute assessment of a key component of popular culture came at the high

in Visions of empire
Heather Streets

’ culture, was in fact instrumental in shaping late Victorian British popular culture. Recent scholarship has already demonstrated that public esteem for the army and colonial warfare rose dramatically in this era. Tales of army adventures abounded, reflecting an increasingly jingoistic, militaristic and imperially minded popular culture. 4 Yet in spite of the centrality of soldiers and warfare to this media culture, such

in Martial races