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Shakespeare's Women and the Fin de Siècle$
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Sophie Duncan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790846

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790846.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Shakespeare's Women and the Fin de Siècle

Sophie Duncan

Oxford University Press

Star Victorian Shakespearean actresses had immense artistic, economic, and social volition. Their most iconoclastic fin-de-siècle performances became crucibles for debates on gender and sexuality in popular theatre, despite scholarship’s emphasis on Ibsen, Shaw, and ‘sex problem’ plays. Actresses’ movements between Shakespearean and fin-de-siècle roles reveal consonances and collisions within the fin-de-siècle repertory. Fin-de-siècle Shakespeare and contemporary Victorian theatre culture conditioned each other in unexpected ways. These performers’ self-promotion has the power to disrupt our historiographies of both celebrity and the theatrical event. Shakespeare performance traditions moved between actresses via little-studied performance genealogies and thriving creative networks, in ways that tendencies in Shakespeare studies have sometimes obscured.

Keywords:   celebrity, fin de siècle, gender, historiography, sexuality, repertory, performance genealogy, Shakespeare studies

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