Values we inherit from the Georgians have led Romanticists to discount female accomplishment as frivolous, vaguely oppressive, and beneath the notice of serious cultural history. This short paper represents a call for a larger project of recovery and rehabilitation of women's participation in amateur performance culture in the Romantic period, by offering a single brief but tantalizing example of the kind of work possible in this field. Ann Ford's variegated career across the arts-which included celebrated performances as a singer in the early 1760s, technical treatises on music, and an 1800 society novel-exemplifies the style of career, conspicuously female, that has been overlooked by conventional terms of literary scholarship, but is recuperable under the aegis of an historical performance studies. It is essential to recognize, however, that such work cannot be carried out without a working critical understanding of performance that is bound to the specific institutional, aesthetic, and political histories of theater and other visual media. In this respect, the generalized rhetoric of performance and performativity so central to critical theories of identity and subjectivity in the last two decades represents a challenge, even an obstacle, to the practice of historical performance studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Literature and Literary Theory