The considerable contributions of British women playwrights of the Restoration and eighteenth century, long unavailable, have now inspired numerous anthologies, editions, and modern-day productions. As these works continue to gain recognition and secure a more prominent place in college curriculums, teachers face the challenge of introducing these rediscovered works to students and explaining how they fit into the period's dramatic tradition. This volume aims to help instructors present a clearer sense of this body of work in the undergraduate and graduate classroom.The volume opens with background essays on the history of women in theater, including the first appearance of actresses on the stage, the earliest professional women playwrights, and their relationships with critics, audiences, and the theater manager David Garrick. Contributors then focus on individual playwrights, from Aphra Behn and Mary Pix to Hannah Cowley and Elizabeth Inchbald, and explore these women's political, protofeminist, critical, and moralist agendas. Discussions of Frances Burney and Eliza Haywood, authors of both novels and plays, raise the question of genre. Comparative approaches offer ways of pairing plays in the classroom, following themes such as masquerade and cross-dressing through the works of female dramatists and those of their male counterparts. Other essays present methods for using these writers and their works in British literature and history courses, surveys of drama and theater history, and introductions to women's literature.
Bonnie Nelson is associate professor of English at Kansas State University. She is the winner of two Excellence in Teaching Awards from the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as the department's SAGE award for graduate teaching. She has published in such periodicals as Theatre Survey, Keats-Shelley Journal, and Women's Writing. Catherine Burroughs is Ruth and Albert Koch Professor of Humanities at Wells College and visiting lecturer in English at Cornell University. Her publications include Reading the Social Body; Closet Stages: Joanna Baillie and the Theater Theory of British Romantic Women Writers; and Women in British Romantic Theatre: Drama, Performance, and Society, 1790-1840.