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8 - Joanna Baillie stages the nation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Alyson Bardsley
Affiliation:
Assistant Professor Department of English, Speech, and World Literature, College of Staten Island, City University of New York
Leith Davis
Affiliation:
Simon Fraser University, British Columbia
Ian Duncan
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
Janet Sorensen
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
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Summary

In 1824 Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine summarized Joanna Baillie's achievement: “the deep tones of Joanna Baillie's genius struck upon the ear with a thrilling sublimity … [She] sought to direct the taste of the nation and the exertions of its authors, to the legitimate objects of poetry; she brought to the task her counsel and her example.” Such praise almost measures up to Baillie's own ambition – although she would have preferred to see “drama” in the place of “poetry.” Baillie's theoretical writing specifically figures theatre as an ideal means to “direct the taste of the nation.” The question of what nation that is, is complicated for Baillie, an expatriate Scot, by the status of Scotland within Great Britain, and Baillie's status within both. If we recognize that for Baillie Great Britain is truly “forged” (to borrow, as others have done, Linda Colley's phrase) we only begin to assess the complexity of her position. Rather than finding Great Britain to be an organic or homogeneous entity, Baillie's historical fictions acknowledge the degree and kind of labor it takes to make England and Scotland into Britain; together with her theatre theory, they assume the task of keeping up that process of making. Tracing the historical and territorial representation of Britain in plays written across her career – Ethwald (1803; her single English historical tragedy), The Family Legend (1810), and The Phantom (1836) – makes plain the degree and kind of work involved.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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  • Joanna Baillie stages the nation
    • By Alyson Bardsley, Assistant Professor Department of English, Speech, and World Literature, College of Staten Island, City University of New York
  • Edited by Leith Davis, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Ian Duncan, University of California, Berkeley, Janet Sorensen, University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511484186.009
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  • Joanna Baillie stages the nation
    • By Alyson Bardsley, Assistant Professor Department of English, Speech, and World Literature, College of Staten Island, City University of New York
  • Edited by Leith Davis, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Ian Duncan, University of California, Berkeley, Janet Sorensen, University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511484186.009
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Joanna Baillie stages the nation
    • By Alyson Bardsley, Assistant Professor Department of English, Speech, and World Literature, College of Staten Island, City University of New York
  • Edited by Leith Davis, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Ian Duncan, University of California, Berkeley, Janet Sorensen, University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511484186.009
Available formats
×