Theater and Empire: A History of Assumptions in the English-Speaking Atlantic World, 1700-1860"
University of Kansas
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It was no coincidence that commercial theater, a market society, the British middle class, and the "first" British Empire arose more or less simultaneously. In the seventeenth century, the new market economic paradigm became increasingly dominant, replacing the old feudal economy. Theater functioned to "explain" this arrangement to the general populace and gradually it became part of what I call a "culture of empire" - a culture built up around the search for resources and markets that characterized imperial expansion. It also rationalized the depredations the Empire brought to those whose resources and labor were coveted by expansionists. This process intensified with the independence of the thirteen North American colonies, and theater began representing Native Americans and African American populations in ways that rationalized the dominant society's behavior toward them. By utilizing an interdisciplinary approach, this research attempts to advance a more nuanced and realistic narrative empire in the early modern and early republic periods. I include a broader spectrum of performance than is typical in this analysis, giving equal credence to indigenous and African American performances that illuminate the imperial nature of Anglo-American performance. This study strives to contribute to a new understanding of the imperial assumptions of this period and in the process give a stronger voice to the historically voiceless.
- Dissertations 
- History Dissertations and Theses 
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