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  • Cited by 12
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
March 2020
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Book description

During the 1820s, British society saw transformations in technology, mobility, and consumerism that accelerated the spread of information. This timely study reveals how bestselling literature, popular theatre, and periodical journalism self-consciously experimented with new media. It presents an age preoccupied with improvisation and speculation – a mode of behaviour that dominated financial and literary markets, generating reflections on risk, agency, and the importance of public opinion. Print and Performance in the 1820s interprets a rich constellation of fictional texts and theatrical productions that gained popularity among middle-class metropolitan audiences through experiments with intersecting fantasy worlds and acutely described real worlds. Providing new contexts for figures such as Byron and Scott, and recovering the work of lesser-known contemporaries including Charles Mathews' character impersonations and the performances of celebrity improvvisatore Tommaso Sgricci, Angela Esterhammer explores the era's influential representations of the way identity is constructed, performed, and perceived.


‘In pondering the performativity of language and literature, no surer and more capable guide can be found than Angela Esterhammer.’

Frederick Burwick Source: The BARS Review

‘Esterhammer's ability to make the history feel modern throughout will appeal to scholars of theater, literature, and history.’

J. Rodzvilla Source: Choice

‘The richness of … [this book's] collection-point to the exciting possibilities materialist reading continues to offer scholars of British Romanticism.’

Kristin Flieger Samuelian Source: European Romantic Review

‘Angela Esterhammer’s latest monograph presents a vividly detailed, panoramic view of a decade that was long disregarded as a disappointing lull between the heights of Romanticism and Victoria’s ascension … The study’s greatest contribution to literary studies may be to foster many such additional readings with its fresh understanding of the 1820s as an exuberant era of risk-taking experimentation in performance and print. Reading it is an immersive experience that provides a clear and convincing take on a fascinating decade.’

Sarah Zimmerman Source: The Wordsworth Circle

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