Politics, performance and popular culture

Theatre and society in nineteenth-century Britain

Edited by Peter Yeandle, Katherine Newey and Jeffrey Richards

Politics, performance and popular culture


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9169-8
  • Pages: 304
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £20.00
  • Published Date: February 2016
  • BIC Category: Humanities / Social & cultural history, History, Social & cultural history, PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / History & Criticism, HISTORY / Social History, The arts / Theatre studies
  • Series: Studies in Popular Culture


This collection brings together studies of popular performance and politics across the nineteenth century, offering a fresh perspective from an archivally grounded research base. It works with the concept that politics is performative and performance is political. The book is organised into three parts in dialogue regarding specific approaches to popular performance and politics. Part I offers a series of conceptual studies using popular culture as an analytical category for social and political history. Part II explores the ways that performance represents and constructs contemporary ideologies of race, nation and empire. Part III investigates the performance techniques of specific politicians - including Robert Peel, Keir Hardie and Henry Hyndman - and analyses the performative elements of collective movements.


'This collection will be a landmark work across the disciplines of theatre studies, social and cultural history, and cultural studies broadly conceived.'
Peter Bailey, Indiana University

'This welcome, and often entertaining, volume brings together a synergy often remarked on but seldom explored in a systematic way: politics and the theatre. Bringing together historians and theatre scholars, the editors are to be congratulated for producing a coherent and focused collection of essays, largely structured around the concept and practice of performance, which probe that relationship from both sides of the divide: the politics of theatre, and the theatrical nature of politics.'
Matthew Roberts, Sheffield Hallam University, Parliamentary History, June 2019

'This book constitutes an argument for theatre history as a rigorous interdisciplinary form of study that can remake social history through attentiveness to the meanings of performance. For that reason, it deserves to have an impact beyond that of Victorian Studies. It also constitutes one of the most original works of political history for a long time.'
Rohan McWilliam, Anglia Ruskin University, Social History

'The authors and editors have collectively enriched the study of politics and performance and helped to carry it forward.'
Joseph S. Meisel, Brown University, Journal of Victorian Culture


Introduction: politics, performance and popular culture - Peter Yeandle, Katherine Newey and Jeffrey Richards
Part I: Conceptualising performance, theorising politics
1. 'To the last drop of my blood': melodrama and politics in late Georgian England' - Robert Poole
2. The platform and the stage: the primary aesthetics of Chartism - Michael Sanders
3. 'Bubbles of the day': the melodramatic and the pantomimic - Katherine Newey
4. Theatrical hierarchy, cultural capital and legitimate/illegitimate divide - Caroline Radcliffe
5. Performances for imagined communities: Gladstone, the national theatre and the contested didactics of the stage - Anselm Heinrich
6. Women's suffrage and theatricality - Sos Eltis
Part II: Politics in performance
7. English pantomime and the Irish question - Jill Sullivan
8. 'Executed with remarkable care and artistic feeling': popular imperialism and the music hall ballet - Jane Pritchard and Peter Yeandle
9. Drury Lane imperialism - Jeffrey Richards
Part III: The performance of politics
10. 'Love, bitter wrong, freedom, sad pity, and lust of power': politics and performance in 1820 - Malcolm Chase
11. Robert Peel - actor dramatist - Richard Gaunt
12. The performance of protest: the 1889 dock strike on and off the stage - Janice Norwood
13. Class, performance and socialist politics: the political campaigns of early labour leaders - Marcus Morris


Peter Yeandle is Lecturer in History at Loughborough University

Katherine Newey is Professor of Theatre History at the University of Exeter

Jeffrey Richards is Emeritus Professor of Cultural History at the University of Lancaster

Politics, performance and popular culture

Edited by Peter Yeandle, Katherine Newey, Jeffrey Richards

Hardcover £20.00 / $29.95

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