NameIturbe, Craig B. (author), Diamond, Elin (chair), McGill, Meredith (internal member), Williams, Carolyn (internal member), Harries, Martin (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
SubjectLiteratures in English,
Theater--United States--History--19th century,
Fame--Social aspects--United States,
Medicine shows--United States--History--19th century,
Barnum, P. T.--(Phineas Taylor),--1810-1891
DescriptionThis project examines the effects of a variety of popular amusements on the development of American drama in the nineteenth century. These amusements, sometimes called paratheatrical entertainments, made up a significant portion of the chaotic entertainment landscape of the nineteenth century. It is my argument that the nineteenth century should be viewed as a paratheatrical era for American drama, and that we cannot properly understand the evolution of theatre in America without understanding its place within a system of available diversions, all of which were furiously competing for audience attention. This competition led to an explosion of genres and subgenres within American dramatic writing, and played a key role in shaping the specific trajectory of such theatrical events as the development of modern celebrity and the advent of American realist drama. I begin with the museum industry, most famously represented by P. T. Barnum. Barnum and his colleagues created a powerful entertainment apparatus in the urban centers of the northeast. The cheap, popular entertainment offered by museums presented a problem for playwrights and theatre managers, a problem that was solved by the invention of sensation melodrama. From there, I move to the medicine show, a form of amusement with a long history in America. The medicine show’s mix of low overhead and big promises helped to secure it a perpetual American audience. James A. Herne was able to recapture some of this audience by writing the spectacle of the medicine show into his own drama, resulting in an American realist theatre that was specifically indebted to the logic of medicine. My next chapter concerns the development of celebrity in American culture, and the indebtedness of that development to the rise of revival preaching. In particular, the American preacher Charles Grandison Finney, who preached to his congregation in a New York City theatre, played an important role in teaching audience members how to respond to a charismatic performance. Finally, I look at the Lyceum circuit, and the way that its persuasive performance style led to the development of argument drama, which is sometimes called moral reform drama.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Craig B. Iturbe
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.