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Early American Theatre from the Revolution to Thomas Jefferson
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  • 8 b/w illus. 5 tables
  • Page extent: 260 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.55 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 792/.0973/09033
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: PN2237 .N38 2003
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Theater--United States--History--18th century
    • American drama--18th century--History and criticism

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521825085 | ISBN-10: 0521825083)

Theatre has often served as a touchstone for moments of political change or national definition and as a way of exploring cultural and ethnic identity. In this 2003 book, Heather Nathans examines the growth and influence of the theatre in the development of the young American Republic, from the Revolution through to the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800. Unlike many works on the early American theatre, this book explores the lives and motives of the people working behind the scenes to establish a new national drama. Some of the most famous figures in American history, from George Washington to Sam Adams, from John Hancock to Alexander Hamilton, battled over the creation of the American theatre. The book traces their motives and strategies - suggesting that for many of these men, the question of whether or not Americans should go to the playhouse meant the difference between the success and failure of the Revolutionary mission.

• The only full-length book that deals with this topic during this period • Unlike most traditional studies of the post-Revolutionary theatre, this book focuses on the crucial social, political and financial context • Offers an interdisciplinary approach to the process of cultural formation, integrating the work of theatre historians, cultural historians, Americanists and sociologists


List of illustrations; List of tables; Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. Extravagance and dissipation; 2. Revolutionary transformations; 3. 'A democracy of glee'; 4. Butcher, baker, candlestick maker; 5. A commercial community; 6. Into the hands of the people; Epilogue: 'from an infant stage'; Tables; Notes; Bibliography; Index.


'… scholars interested in the history of the early American theatre, and the impact of social and political forces on its development, will find much here of interest.' Journal of American Studies

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