Reading the Long 18th Century
This seminar is designed to introduce the theatre scholar to the practice of local reading through the detailed exploration of one period loosely referred to as the Long Eighteenth Century. It embraces a sweep of English and Anglophone print and performance culture from the Restoration to the close of the 18th century, emanating from London as the cultural center and spreading out across the transatlantic web of empire. We consider how performance (in its broadest sense) functioned in forging citizenship, making British bodies, London manners, and empire-building across this geography: from the Anglophone provincial circuit, including Dublin, Edinburgh, the Caribbean and colonial America, to India.
The course offers a working introduction to the practice of situating theatre and performance within a precise, complex social and political landscape of the period and how this landscape was represented in--and occasionally shaped by--the playhouse. Using primary resources of the period, an overview of the historiography and iconography, representative plays, biographies, contemporary criticism and seminal scholarship, we will explore the tense/dense relationship between the theatre and the culture at large.