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This chapter takes a careful corpus-based look at the politeness vocabulary of the eighteenth century. It starts with a wide-angle perspective of the terms politeness, civility and courtesy in general-purpose corpora before moving on to a more detailed analysis of a larger selection of politeness- and impoliteness-related lexical items in a dedicated corpus of eighteenth-century epistolary novels by Samuel Richardson and Fanny Burney. In the second part of this chapter, two case studies are devoted to the sentimental comedy The Conscious Lovers by Richard Steele and the domestic tragedy The London Merchant, or The History of George Barnwell by George Lillo. Both plays have a strong and explicit educational intent. They want to instruct and entertain and help their audiences to become better human beings who rise above the mere observance of rules of etiquette.
The 250th anniversary of the opening of the Bristol Old Vic, the country's longest-serving theatre, was celebrated on 30 May 2016. In this article David Roberts considers the repertory choices of the opening night, the way the occasion sought to address anxiety in the city about the presence of a professional theatre in its midst, and the precarious means by which the theatre itself came into being. Where previous historians have emphasized the legal context for objections to the theatre, it is argued here that discourses arising from the Jeremy Collier controversy informed local opposition and were specifically addressed both through programming and through writing for and about the event. David Roberts is Dean of the Arts, Design, and Media at Birmingham City University. His recent publications include Thomas Betterton and Restoration Plays and Players, both for Cambridge University Press. This article is based on a lecture given to celebrate the anniversary of the Bristol Old Vic.
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