Jews and Other Outlandish Englishmen in Georgian Britain
Author: Michael Ragussis
Pubpsher: University of Pennsylvania Press
Category: Literary Criticism
Perhaps the most significant development of the Georgian theater was its multiplication of ethnic, colonial, and provincial character types parading across the stage. In Theatrical Nation, Michael Ragussis opens up an archive of neglected plays and performances to examine how this flood of domestic and colonial others showcased England in general and London in particular as the center of an increasingly complex and culturally mixed nation and empire, and in this way illuminated the shifting identity of a newly configured Great Britain. In asking what kinds of ideological work these ethnic figures performed and what forms were invented to accomplish this work, Ragussis concentrates on the most popular of the "outlandish Englishmen," the stage Jew, Scot, and Irishman. Theatrical Nation understands these stage figures in the context of the government's controversial attempts to merge different ethnic and national groups through the 1707 Act of Union with Scotland, the Jewish Naturalization Bill of 1753, and the Act of Union with Ireland of 1800. Exploring the significant theatrical innovations that illuminate the central anxieties shared by playhouse and nation, Ragussis considers how ethnic identity was theatricalized, even as it moved from stage to print. By the early nineteenth century, Anglo-Irish and Scottish novelists attempted to deconstruct the theater's ethnic stereotypes while reimagining the theatricality of interactions between English and ethnic characters. An important shift took place as the novel's cross-ethnic love plot replaced the stage's caricatured male stereotypes with the beautiful ethnic heroine pursued by an English hero.
This book concerns the life and theatrical career of the great native-born English composer and musician of the eighteenth century, Thomas Augustine Arne (1710-1778), best known today as the composer of “Rule, Britannia.” It will appeal to those interested in the mid-to-late eighteenth-century London and Dublin theatre, opera, and music scenes.
Elizabeth Cooper's The Rival Widows, or Fair Libertine provides a unique opportunity to restore to scholarly and pedagogical attention a neglected female writer and a play with broad and significant implications for studies of eighteenth-century history, culture and gender. Following the adventures of Lady Bellair, a “glowing, joyous young Widow,” the storyline regenders standard expectations about desire, marriage, libertinism and sentiment. The play has not been reprinted since 1735; therefore this old-spelling edition gives scholars access to an important but neglected resource for studies of women writers and eighteenth-century theatre. In an original and extensive introduction, Tiffany Potter presents cultural and historical information that highlights the scholarly implications of this newly available play. She offers a brief biographical sketch of the playwright; a summary of sources for specific elements of the play; an overview of the theatrical climate of the time (with particular focus on the conditions leading to the Licensing Act of 1737); a discussion of the place of women in eighteenth-century society; a summary of symbiotic cultural discourses of libertinism and sensibility in the early eighteenth century; and a discussion of the general cultural significance of Cooper's demonstration of the malleability of prescriptive gender roles. Further value is added to this edition through its appendices, which reproduce documents relating to the playwright Elizabeth Cooper and to the Licensing Act of 1737 (including the text of the Act itself).
Shakespeare's Othello has exercised a powerful fascination over audiences with its portrayal of destructive jealousy. This study is a major exercise in the historicization of Othello in which the author examines contemporary writings and demonstrates how they were embedded in the text. Subsequent chapters analyze representations and interpretations from the Restoration to the present, using illustrations of performances and performers. Othello is revealed as a significant shaper of cultural meaning.