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date: 30 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The theatre was a significant institution of public life in the nineteenth century, and an important source of aesthetic innovation and entrepreneurial energy in Victorian culture. The theatre offers an important perspective on Victorian affect and attitudes to the real. However, drama, theatre, and performance have been overlooked in subsequent histories of Victorian public life and culture, in part because of the theatre’s uncomfortable position between high art and popular culture. Despite its popularity, Victorian attitudes towards the theatre and drama were ambivalent, oscillating between huge enjoyment of spectacle, farce, melodrama, and pantomime, and concern over the moral standards and commercial status of the theatre. For scholars of the Victorian period, the Victorian theatre has a rich archive not limited to the dramatic text, and indicative of the interconnections between performance, dramatic literature, and visual culture.

Keywords: theatre, drama, performance, melodrama, spectacle, farce, pantomime, popular culture, visual culture, archive

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