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Title:Comedy on the Borders: Negotiations of *Class Through Parody on the Nineteenth-Century New York Stage
Author(s):Smith, Tyler August
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Davis, Peter A.
Department / Program:Theatre
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Beginning with the surprising success of opera parody in 1839 at Mitchell's Olympic Theatre, the burlesque genre exploded from near-total obscurity to become one of the primary entertainments of nineteenth-century America. Opera parody made the Olympic profitable in a financially and socially strained time in the city's history by bringing together an unusually heterogeneous mix of audience members together in one theatre and pacifying them with covertly affirming and multi-layered comedy. Parodies of Shakespeare from 1840-1870 both echoed and resisted the appropriation of Shakespeare by business-class audiences, who shifted the bard from popular theatre to sacred literature. Melodrama, one of the most prolific genres of the century, was parodied in a wide variety of ways, but a trio of melodrama burlesques offer substantial insight into the contentious process of class ownership and aggression that marked business-class hegemony and working-class resistance between 1848 and 1862. All three genres of parody were largely conservative, restraining their satirical and politically active content to covert means of expression, generally reinforcing the values of the audiences they targeted, and putting laughter and profit before all else. Beyond their conservative social function, each mode of parody provides a new and rewarding insight into the historical moment at which it was popular, thus adding depth to existing histories of the period and challenging a number of assumptions about the relationship between entertainment and society in nineteenth-century America.
Issue Date:2007
Description:243 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2007.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3270031
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2007

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