Thalia's Daughters

A weblog for English 6365: Women Onstage in the Long Eighteenth Century, at UNB.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Literary Conversations

It strikes me, my dears, that we have been enacting elements of 18thc literary culture on the Wikipedia talkpage of Susanna Centlivre. Though which is foremost I cannot say: the fierce parry and thrust of sharp debate, the scurrilous mud-slinging of Grub Street, or the comedy of errors, complete with beleaguered maidens and blocking figures. It also strikes me that the whole kerfuffle is an object lesson in what happens when a woman picks up the pen (or keyboard) and enters into the hostile public sphere.

Only, like Cavendish's Lady Victoria, the woman in question also has an army of Amazons.

I would suggest that we all retire to the country for a period of contemplation, and debrief next week.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

One last thing . . .

I have to take my father for his treatment in the morning tomorrow but it usually doesn't take too long and I expect to be in F'ton on time for class. However, if I am a little late, don't worry. (In the unlikely event that I am really late, I will call Grad. English.)

Let me know

if you would all be interested in going out after our last class, for a drink/coffee, or for dinner?

Joanna Baillie

If you missed it last week in class, or on Kari's blog, she intends to focus her discussion on The Tryal; a good idea, I think.

Here are a couple of things that strike me about the play:

This is the second comedy we've read (the first was Cowley's The Belle's Stratagem in which the witty heroine asks and receives her guardian's permission for her machinations. How can we interpret this shift from the parent-less scenarios of earlier plays? Kari and Brenna suggest that the treatment of the parental figures is affirmative; is it also, in any sense, conservative?

Agnes pretends to be poor in order to find a man who is interested in her for herself. But why does she up the ante and pretend to be so bad-tempered? Any thoughts about the ethics of the women's subterfuge, in general?

Duthie's intro. discusses Baillie's privileging of "the natural" over "the situational." Is this true of The Tryal?

How does this play relate to the overarching theme of marriage we have been tracing throughout?

How do these characters relate to notions of community? Is the resolution as normative as those we have seen elsewhere?

Are these plays, as Baillie's detractors claim, unstagable?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wikipedians (and you know who you are)

Two things:

There is a template to add to an entry if one is doing a big edit; see it here.

I have begun a list of early-modern women playwrights and have linked to all your posts (I hope). Feel free to add and distribute.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Lots of great posts

about The Times. A couple of ideas that I would like to pursue tomorrow:

— a comparison between the way "the marriage plot" has evolved in most of our plays to date, and this one (i.e. the secondary position of the Louisa plot; the married status of the main couple);

— class conflict (social climbing, the nouveau riche, etc.);

— a related issue: the social critique (the tawdry banality of "society," etc.) implied in the title;

— the economic focus;

— the use of some familiar tropes: the "blocking figure", the witty servants, the forced marriage.

And how does the end play out all these threads? Is it contained? Open-ended? Does it back-track, as so many endings seem to do?

Finally, is Rizzo correct that Griffith is merely a competent playwright?

"Beyond Recovery"

Just read the article by Jean Marsden that Andrea suggested to us and found it excellent. She addresses many of the concerns we have touched on in our discussions about projecting our own politics on to our writers. She mentions Pix, Trotter, and Manley specifically, but has a much wider focus. (And the article is short, as Andrea points out):

Marsden, Jean I. “Beyond Recovery: Feminism and the Future of Eighteenth-Century Literary Studies.” Feminist Studies 28.3 (Fall 2002): 657 – 662. Academic Search Elite. EBSCOhost.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


A quick note to let you all know that I am suddenly dealing with a consuming situation at home: my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness last week and has been hospitalized. Many unknowns at this point, and I will keep you posted about anything that might affect the course. But I am going to be slow getting your Wikipedia assignments back to you and you have a right to know why. I hope I won't have to cancel any classes as we have no wiggle room with presentations — we have one a week scheduled until the end of term — and I don't like to ask anyone to double up (if anyone is quite certain that their presentation/discussion will be on the short side and doesn't mind doubling up, let me know, just in case). But rest assured that the completion of the course will not be affected, whatever we may need to do to ensure that.