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Empire on the English Stage 1660–1714


  • 4 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 364 pages
  • Size: 228 x 150 mm
  • Weight: 0.548 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521036009)

Contesting the argument that Restoration and early eighteenth-century drama referred almost exclusively to domestic social and political issues, Empire on the English Stage 1660–1714 shows that the theatre was a crucial location for debates over England's contemporaneous colonial expansion. The book provides a comprehensive account of colonialism, national identity and the representation of race and ethnicity on stage. Joining historical discussions of the development of British imperial ideology, Bridget Orr argues that dramatic texts and production provide a rich and unexamined archive in which the issues attendant on the emergence of the first empire figure largely. Her account not only sheds light on plays by Dryden, Orrery, Behn, Wycherley and Southerne but directs attention to popular but often marginal texts by Settle, Sedley, Dennis and Charles Shadwell. Attention to the imperial themes of these dramatists decisively redraws the map of Restoration and early eighteenth-century drama.

• Provides a comprehensive analyses of Restoration and eighteenth-century drama as a discourse of empire • Engages with historical research into the ideology of empire in the early modern period • Examines the role of gender, ethnic and 'racial' difference in dramatic representations of colonial encounters


List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; 1. New habits on the stage; 2. Enlarging the poet's empire: poetics, politics and heroic plays, 1660–1714; 3. The great Turks: the Ottomans on stage, 1660–1714; 4. The most famous monarchs of the East; 5. Spain's grand project of a universal empire; 6. Brave new worlds: Utopian plays of the Restoration; 7. The customs of the country: colonialism and comedy; 8. Romans and Britons; Conclusion; Notes; Works cited; Index.


'Empire on the English Stage offers a set of illuminating case-studies of drama and empire quite unlike any other book's in their breadth and subtlety. The best recent scholarship on this crucial period of transformation and transition has emphasised the salience of foreign policy and colonial interests for British history as well as the interpenetration of global empires - and not only European ones - from the North American interior to Southwestern India and Southeast Asia, as well as most points between. Orr's work is right on the cutting-edge of this exciting historiography.' David Armitage, Columbia University

'A valuable study … the first to treat this theme throughout the entire canon of the genre and beyond it. Highly recommended.' Choice

'This book is one of the most imaginative and original studies of Restoration drama to appear in recent years.' Review of English Studies

'… Orr's book is obviously the most comprehensive and thorough examination so far of the whole problem as far as drama is concerned.' Journal of English Language and Literature

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