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Martial Women in the British Theatre, 1789-1804

Burdett, Sarah (2016) Martial Women in the British Theatre, 1789-1804. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

In the period of the French Revolution, the armed or martial woman comes to stand in Britain as the representative of extreme political and social disruption. She embodies, in striking form, the revolutionary chaos witnessed across the channel, which threatens to infect British culture. This thesis traces shifting representations of the female warrior, and examines the complex processes by which the threat that she personifies is handled in British tragedies and sentimental comedies, written and performed in London and Dublin between 1789 and 1804. The study presents the British theatre as an arena in which the significance of the arms-bearing woman is constantly re-modelled and re-appropriated to fulfil diverse ideological functions. Used to challenge as well as to enforce established notions of sex and gender difference, she is fashioned also as an allegorical tool, serving both to condemn and to champion political rebellion in England, France and Ireland. Combining close readings of dramatic texts with detailed discussions of production and performance histories, this thesis tells a story of the martial woman’s evolution in British dramas, which emphasises her multifaceted and protean identity, and shows her development not to have followed a stable or linear pattern, but to have been constantly redirected by an expansive range of contextual factors: historical, social, and theatrical.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.707137
Depositing User: Dr Sarah Burdett
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2017 16:00
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:21
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/15781

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