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Staging the Other in Nineteenth-Century British Drama

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Edited By Tiziana Morosetti

The body of the «Other» – exotic, unfamiliar, fascinating – is the topic of this collection of essays on nineteenth-century British theatre. Arranged chronologically, the volume traces visual representations of the Other across the nineteenth century as well as their legacy in contemporary theatrical culture. Essays explore the concept, politics and aesthetic features of the «exotic» body on stage, be it the actual body of the actor or actress, or the fictional, «picturesque» bodies brought on stage.
Far from focusing exclusively on the subaltern, colonial subject, this volume addresses the Other in its wider meaning, focusing on case studies as famous as Edwin Forrest and Ira Aldridge or as neglected as that of the Māori who appeared on the London stage in the 1860s. Written by an international group of scholars, this collection offers an informed, updated insight into the extensive and multifaceted presence of the non-British in both Georgian and Victorian drama, investigated through new lenses and materials to shed light on the complex engagement of nineteenth-century British culture with alterity.
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Tiziana Morosetti - Introduction

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TIZIANA MOROSETTI

Introduction

This volume is the outcome of the international conference The ‘Exotic’ Body in Nineteenth-century British Drama (Oxford, 25–6 September 2014), itself one of the dissemination activities of a two-year project on the same topic I undertook as a Marie Curie Research Fellow at Oxford between 2012 and 2014. The conference provided a true testing ground for that project, the main goal of which – an exhaustive bibliography of all plays featuring ‘exotic’ characters, settings, and themes on the nineteenth-century British stage – demanded clarification first of all regarding that very term, ‘exotic’. Inverted commas abounded in my notes, and the conference seemed somewhat bound to confirm the caution of my approach, if only because ‘exotic’ is a term that still awaits full canonization within studies of Empire and its cultural background, its employment, especially since the publication of Graham Huggan’s ground-breaking study,1 mainly established within the postcolonial context. Had not delegates accepted the challenge implied by the call for papers, then, and proposed their own definitions of ‘exotic’, I would have most certainly ended up overlooking its possibilities as a critical term, and for this, I remain deeply thankful for a conference that was as varied as it was rich.

After all, it is only in a second definition of the word that ‘exotic’ may mean ‘Outlandish, barbarous, strange, uncouth. Also, having the attraction of the strange or foreign, glamorous’ (OED) – all adjectives that sit particularly well within...

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