This article examines the career of Samuel Taylor Coleridge as a playwright. It suggests that Coleridge's influence as a dramatic critic has overshadowed his reputation as a playwright. Coleridge completed a total of four plays from 1794 to 1817. These include The Fall of Robespierre, an Historic Drama, Osorio, A Tragedy, Remorse, A Tragedy, and Zapolya: A Christmas Tale. The article discusses the plot and storyline of these works.
The advent of statutory copyright in eighteenth-century England raised questions about ensuring access to the materials that writers need to produce new books. The public domain did not spring into being as the obverse of the rights afforded by the Act of Anne (1710), nor was it created by nineteenth-century doctrines such as fair use; rather, it developed out of practices and assumptions predating the Act of Anne and others that emerged in the statute’s wake. To explore these ideas, this chapter considers booksellers’ and authors’ conceptions of copyright as property, the metaphors proposed by advocates of anti-piracy measures, arguments about copyright’s duration and its basis in the common law, and analogies between copyright and patent law during this period. Finally, the chapter discusses the booksellers’ strategic litigation in the equity courts, where pleading could rely on imaginative premises that, in some respects, rival those of contemporaneous novelists.
Drama in early America forms the basis of this article. The phrase “early American drama” is open to different interpretations. A modern theatergoer could be forgiven for assuming “American drama” began in the second decade of the twentieth century with the emergence of Eugene O'Neill. This article focuses on dramatic texts written in America between the era of colonial settlement and Royall Tyler's The Contrast (1787), a play written by an American author with a setting in the United States and a cast of exclusively American characters, whose prologue declares that it is a study of “native themes”. The article traces the early colonial development of drama followed by the emergence of satire. Works of famous American playwrights such as Eugene O'Neill, Thomas Godfrey, Mercy Watis Warren, and others are covered also. Although these players spent much of the first post-Revolutionary decade struggling to reestablish the professional theater and its predominantly British repertoire, early American drama continued to evolve.
Terry F. Robinson
With the development of connoisseurship in eighteenth-century England came new scrutiny of the female body. This article examines the contemporary intersection between aesthetic appreciation and the act of viewing the female form. Drawing upon recent scholarship, it charts a history of “body connoisseurship” from the Society of Dilettanti, to London’s Theatres Royal, to the Royal Academy of Arts, and reveals how the focus on the female physique—as an object of beauty, sex, ownership, and exchange—was shaped not only by men but also by women who exerted increasing control over their own representational narratives. More fundamentally, it places women at the center of connoisseurial debates in the period, contending that depictions of women’s bodies within connoisseurial contexts function at once as emblems of knowledge, both aesthetic and concupiscent, and as emblems that ironize and destabilize such knowledge by cultivating a fiction of the profound unknowability of women—and thus of beauty itself.
This article concentrates on elegiac sexuality in the drama of the eighteenth century. While this article is less concerned with ‘sympathy’, ‘sensibility’, and the kind of ‘sentimentality’ that drama trended towards in the latter quarter of the eighteenth century, it argues that the elegiac sexuality dramatized by post-Restoration and eighteenth-century playwrights can be read as both a class leveler and an attempt to recoup some of what might be regarded as the moral components of libertinism, with its emphasis on frank, unabashed, uninstitutionally-mediated desire. As this brief discussion of a number of well-known eighteenth-century dramas has argued, attempts to discipline the sexual behavior of central characters create a pattern of surprisingly strong attachment to the loss of a vigorous embrace of libidinous heroines and heroes — an embrace brought into clearer view by a focus on elegy and the drama between 1700 and 1800.
This essay examines the history of drama and theater during the American Revolution. It suggests that politics dominate the dramatic theme during this period, particularly in such works as Mercy Otis Warren’s propaganda play The Blockheads, John Leacock’s patriotic tragedy The Fall of British Tyranny; or, American Liberty Triumphant, and Hugh Henry Brackenridge’s comedy The Death of General Montgomery. This essay suggests that despite the diverse political opinions expressed by the characters of Revolutionary dramas, taken as a group these plays display a common concern with the shared or collective memories of both metropolitan and colonial Britons in the eighteenth century.
This article examines the development of scholarship on literary responses to the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1793–1815. It examines the reasons for the surprising lack of research on this area in both traditional and new historicist accounts of romanticism, as seen in the work of M. H. Abrams and Jerome J. McGann, despite the pioneering work of Betty T. Bennett. It then examines the major studies of the topic produced by Gillian Russell, Simon Bainbridge, Philip Shaw, Mary A. Favret, Neil Ramsey, and others. Particular focus is placed on key critical issues, including the distance from the scene of conflict of those writing and reading about war, the representation of suffering and wounding, and the impact of war on noncombatants. The article ends with pointing to areas for further study.
This essay traces the history of the establishment of the British theatre in colonial America. It describes the key figures involved in establishing the theatre in the colonies, including David Douglass, who was the first real theatrical entrepreneur and leader of the American Company of Comedians. It provides a distinctive and foundational examination about the beginnings of American dramatic culture and suggests that the social topography of establishing theatre in British America was also quite similar to that within the provinces outside of London.