Teaching British Women Playwrights of the Restoration and Eighteenth Century

  • Editors: Bonnie Nelson, Catherine Burroughs
  • Pages: x & 470 pp.
  • Published: 2010
  • ISBN: 9781603290838 (Paperback)
  • ISBN: 9781603290821 (Cloth)
Teaching British Women Playwrights of the Restoration and Eighteenth Century Cover

“This book will be an extremely useful guide to instructors trying to bring these plays and this period into their teaching, and even their research.”

—John O’Brien, University of Virginia

The considerable contributions of British women playwrights of the Restoration and eighteenth century, long unavailable, have now inspired numerous anthologies, editions, and modern-day productions. As these works continue to gain recognition and secure a more prominent place in college curriculums, teachers face the challenge of introducing these rediscovered works to students and explaining how they fit into the period’s dramatic tradition. This volume aims to help instructors present a clearer sense of this body of work in the undergraduate and graduate classroom.

The volume opens with background essays on the history of women in theater, including the first appearance of actresses on the stage, the earliest professional women playwrights, and their relationships with critics, audiences, and the theater manager David Garrick. Contributors then focus on individual playwrights, from Aphra Behn and Mary Pix to Hannah Cowley and Elizabeth Inchbald, and explore these women’s political, protofeminist, critical, and moralist agendas. Discussions of Frances Burney and Eliza Haywood, authors of both novels and plays, raise the question of genre. Comparative approaches offer ways of pairing plays in the classroom, following themes such as masquerade and cross-dressing through the works of female dramatists and those of their male counterparts. Other essays present methods for using these writers and their works in British literature and history courses, surveys of drama and theater history, and introductions to women’s literature.

Cami D. Agan
Emily Hodgson Anderson
Misty G. Anderson
Betsy Bolton
Nancy Copeland
Thomas C. Crochunis
Pilar Cuder-Domínguez
Patricia Demers
Jones DeRitter
Michelle Ruggaber Dougherty
Melinda C. Finberg
Tassie Gwilliam
George E. Haggerty
Catherine Ingrassia
Roxanne Kent-Drury
Elizabeth Kubek
Kathleen Leicht
Anna Lott
Ellen MacKay
Jean I. Marsden
Marie E. McAllister
Jane Milling
Victoria Myers
Nora Nachumi
Daniel O’Quinn
Anita Pacheco
Vimala C. Pasupathi
Jacqueline Pearson
Marjean D. Purinton
Cythnia Richards
Betty Rizzo
Laura J. Rosenthal
Francesca Saggini
Gillian Skinner

Introduction (1)

Bonnie Nelson and Catherine Burroughs

Part I: Historical Contexts

Working in the Theater: Women Playwrights, 1660–1750 (15)

Jane Milling

Regendering the Restoration Stage: Women and Theater, 1660–1720 (29)

George E. Haggerty

Women Spectators, Playwrights, and Performers and the Restoration Stage (44)

Jacqueline Pearson

Women and Playwriting, 1750–1800 (58)

Catherine Burroughs

Part II: Individual Playwrights

Aphra Behn in the Contemporary Theater (71)

Nancy Copeland

Mary Pix, the London Middle Class, and Progressive Whig Ideology (81)

Elizabeth Kubek

Embodying Centlivre’s Comic Vision: A Bold Stroke and The Wonder in the Classroom (93)

Misty G. Anderson

Performance and Philosophy in the Work of Catharine Trotter Cockburn (110)

Roxanne Kent-Drury

The Other Elizabeth Griffith (120)

Betty Rizzo

Frances Sheridan: A Case Study for Mid-Eighteenth- Century Comedy (136)

Cami D. Agan

Hannah More’s Reformation of Romantic Theater (147)

Patricia Demers

Hannah Cowley, Gender Identity, and A Bold Stroke for a Husband (161)

Betsy Bolton

To Write with Authority: Elizabeth Inchbald’s Prefaces to The British Theatre (174)

Nora Nachumi

Joanna Baillie and the Theme of Trial (187)

Victoria Myers

Part III: The Playwright-Novelist

Frances Brooke’s The Excursion and Eighteenth-Century Women’s Theater (203)

Michelle Ruggaber Dougherty

“The Stage Not Answering My Expectations”: The Case of Eliza Haywood (213)

Catherine Ingrassia

Teaching Evelina as a Dramatic Text (223)

Francesca Saggini

Class, Gender, and Inheritance in Burney’s A Busy Day and The Woman-Hater (237)

Gillian Skinner

Elizabeth Inchbald’s Revolutionary Writings (247)

Anna Lott

Part IV: Comparative Approaches

Gender, Race, and Party Politics in the Tragedies of Behn, Pix, and Manley (263)

Pilar Cuder-Domínguez

Disguise, Fantasy, and Misrecognition in The Belle’s Stratagem and Fantomina (275)

Tassie Gwilliam

Comparing Early and Late Plays (285)

Kathleen Leicht

She Stoops to Stratagem: A Comparative Approach to Eighteenth-Century Comedy (293)

Emily Hodgson Anderson

Part V: Classroom Strategies

Using Production to Teach Women Playwrights (305)

Marie E. McAllister

Cultural Studies in the Classroom: Behn’s The Rover (315)

Laura J. Rosenthal

Performance Theory: Attending to the Monkey Wrench in Centlivre’s The Busie Body (325)

Ellen MacKay

Pre- and Postrealist Dramaturgy: Women Writers, Silence, Speech, and Trauma (336)

Thomas C. Crochunis

Contexts for Teaching Margaret Cavendish’s Bell in Campo (348)

Vimala C. Pasupathi

To Whom Does the New World Belong? Teaching Behn’s The Widow Ranter (356)

Cynthia Richards

Teaching Behn’s The Rover (364)

Anita Pacheco

Centlivre and the Stage Sodomite (373)

Melinda C. Finberg

On Using Thelma and Louise to Teach Centlivre’s The Wonder (382)

Jones DeRitter

Teaching Burney’s The Witlings (390)

Marjean D. Purinton

Scarcity and Surplus: Teaching Inchbald’s Every One Has His Fault (398)

Daniel O’Quinn

Imagining a Course: Teaching Women Dramatists (409)

Jean I. Marsden

Notes on Contributors (419)

Works Cited (425)

Index (459)