Interculturalism and Resistance in the London Theater, 1660-1800: Identity, Performance, Empire

Interculturalism and Resistance in the London Theater, 1660-1800: Identity, Performance, Empire

Interculturalism and Resistance in the London Theater, 1660-1800: Identity, Performance, Empire

Interculturalism and Resistance in the London Theater, 1660-1800: Identity, Performance, Empire

Synopsis

"In Interculturalism and Resistance in the London Theater, Mita Choudhury argues that the eighteenth-century British theater is a dynamic expression and register of the anxieties and tensions of a culture poised for global supremacy. By strategic consideration of political and intellectual alliances that the theater inspired and stifled, and through discussions of a wide cross-section of performance practices from the time of Dryden to that of Inchbald, Choudhury demonstrates the power of performativity in a culture in ascendancy. She argues that nationalism, as both active movement and contemplative ideology, cannot be separated from the themes of expansionism that propel the many incentives, principles, and sites of performance. In an original contribution to criticism, Interculturalism and Resistance demonstrates the eighteenth-century theatrical culture's ambivalence toward what has recently been described as the "exoticism of multiculturalism.""--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The primary impulse of interculturalism and resistance in the London Theater, 1660–1800 is to reinstate the theater and all its performative manifestations and eccentricities, with all its grandeur, deformities, inconsistencies, and unpredictabilities at the center of discussions on eighteenth-century culture. While this practice is commonplace in Renaissance studies, thanks mainly to Shakespeare and the gigantic industry that his works have generated, it is not so in Restoration and eighteenth-century studies. Not having the canonical giant of the Bard to accommodate any and every reactionary, centrist, or progressive theory, ideology, or intellectual pursuit, the “long” eighteenth century (as the period 1660 to 1800 is called) continues to inspire, with some exceptions, canon- if not convention-bound approaches. and the canon is more often than not constructed around the novel and the poem because the rise of the one and the classicism of the other have traditionally been identified as the defining moments of British Enlightenment culture—a culture in ascendancy, a culture poised for global supremacy. Consequently, “drama has always been a foster child within the family of eighteenth-century studies.”

Additionally, as Douglas Canfield and Deborah Payne, the editors of Cultural Readings of Restoration and Eighteenth-Century English Theater, remind us, the field of eighteenth-century studies has resisted “those critical methods that have come to dominate literary studies: semiotics, deconstruction, feminism, Marxism,… new historicism, and cultural studies.” My own interest in the theater of the long eighteenth century has been sharpened by this twin resistance in the field to both theater and theory and influenced by the methodologies of those scholars who have revolutionized the field of eighteenth-century studies by emphasizing the pivotal role of the theater in constructions of British culture. But the antagonism toward theory does not necessarily pit the theorists against the theater historians. a survey of the field reveals that the best theater historians in the field—I rely heavily upon their archaeological . . .

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