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Abstract - Alessandra Grossi (Theatre and Performance Studies)

The Representation of Womanhood in Victorian Classical Burlesque: A Combination of Approaches

My research aims at investigating the ways in which womanhood is represented on Victorian classical burlesque stage. The preliminary step to approach this topic is archival research, necessary for the collection of primary sources such as scripts, playbills and reviews. Their analysis is then informed by a combination of theories, namely Classical Reception, Theatre Historiography and Gender Studies, in order to account for the multiplicity of factors whose interplay contributes to the characterisation of gender. Firstly, Classical Reception, which accounts for the seepage of Greek and Roman plays or epic poems in nineteenth-century culture, would be interrogated to understand the ways in which burlesque authors rewrite a classic source. Secondly, the notions of “intertheatricality” and “repertoire”, respectively developed by Jackie Bratton and Tracy Davies in the field of Theatre Historiography, would be used to evaluate the interrelatedness of burlesque with other forms of entertainment that are performed within the same theatrical tradition. Thirdly, after having identified the patterns emerging in the representation of gender in the chosen corpus of classical burlesques, it will be possible to examine Gender Studies theories in order to understand whether such configurations question or endorse the Victorian ideals of womanhood and whether the crossing of gender boundaries taking place on the burlesque stage could be said to have a political value.

PhD Candidate

Theatre and Performance Studies