Women's Romantic Theatre and Drama
History, Agency, and Performativity
As theatre and drama of the Romantic Period undergo a critical reassessment among scholars internationally, the contributions of women as playwrights, actresses, and managers are also being revalued. This volume, which brings together leading British, North American, and Italian critics, is a crucial step towards reclaiming the importance of women's dramatic and theatrical activities during the period. Writing for the theatre implied assuming a public role, a hazardous undertaking for women who, especially after the French Revolution, were assigned to the private, primarily domestic, sphere. As the contributors examine the covert strategies women used to become full participants in the public theatre, they shed light on the issue of women's agency, expressed both through the writing of highly politicized or ethicized drama, as in the case of Elizabeth Inchbald or Joanna Baillie, and through women's professional practice as theatre managers and stage producers, as in the case of Elizabeth Vestris and Jane Scott. Among the topics considered are women's history plays, domesticity, ethics and sexuality in women's closet drama, the politics of drama and performance, and the role of women as managers and producers. Specialists in performance studies, Romantic Period drama, and women's writing will find the essays both challenging and inspiring.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction, Lilla Maria Crisafulli and Keir Elam; Part I Historical Drama and Romantic Historiography: Baillie, Mitford, and the 'different track' of women's historical drama on the romantic stage, Greg Kucich; Historical agency in romantic women's drama, Lilla Maria Crisafulli; Hannah More's and Ann Yearsley's Anglo-Saxon history plays, Cecilia Pietropoli; Historical sieges in women's romantic drama: Felicia Hemans, Joanna Baillie and Frances Brooke, Serena Baiesi; Felicia Hemans, Schillerian drama, and the feminization of history, Gary Kelly. Part II Dramaturgical and Cultural Processes: The erotics of home: staging sexual fantasy in British women's drama, Catherine Burroughs; When Mitford met Baillie: theatre, sociability and the networks of women's romantic drama, Diego Saglia; Dramatic theory and critical discourse in Elizabeth Inchbald's Remarks on The British Theatre, Franca Dellarosa; Elizabeth Inchbald: translation as mediation and re-writing, Vita M. Mastrosilvestri; Negotiating voices in romantic theatre: Scottish women playwrights, gender and performativity, Gioia Angeletti. Part III Women Staging, Women Staged: Inchbald, Holcroft and the censorship of Jacobin theatre, Jane Moody; From darkness to light: science and religion on Joanna Baillie's stage, Isabella Imperiali; Poses and pauses: Sarah Siddons and the romantic theatrical portrait, Claudia Corti; When 'poetry and stage do agree together': Elizabeth Vestris's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Stefania Magnoni; Bibliography; Index.
Lilla Maria Crisafulli and Keir Elam are both Professors of English Literature at the University of Bologna, Italy.
'Women's Romantic Theatre and Drama assembles the best scholars from Italy, North America, and the United Kingdom into a single volume, and in many ways represents the culmination of three years of collective work led by Lilla Crisafulli and Keir Elam. Here is exhaustive coverage of romantic women writers' contribution to the period's theater and drama, from treatments of major writers like Elizabeth Inchbald and Joanna Baillie to essays on Scottish women's writing, translation, censorship, religion and science, and dramatic theory. Romantic theater is evidently alive and well - thanks to time well spent in Italy.' Michael Gamer, University of Pennsylvania, USA 'Women's Romantic Theatre and Drama is important not only because it directs the critical spotlight to stages and auditoriums bustling with activity, but also lifts the curtain on important 'backstage areas' such as the salon and literary closet, where women could explore new forms of agency, both individual and collective.' BARS Bulletin