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Title: The topography of female agency on the Restoration stage, 1660-1714
Author: Infante, Gabriella
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 3680
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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In this thesis, I analyse a series of plays from the Restoration stage to argue that the impact of the actress on the representation of female agency can be understood better if put in relation to the spaces used as settings. The plays reflect the ongoing spatial negotiation that takes place once the actress is introduced, and my thesis contends that four spaces − the playhouse, the coach, the tavern, and the park − form a topography characterised by a fluctuation of active and passive female agency. Drawing from contemporary sources which indicate the prominence of these specific spaces, I consider how these are depicted in relation to the female-centred narrative. I begin with the space that first welcomed the actress, the playhouse. This sets the term for the exploration of the Restoration repertory through its engagement with spaces of cultural importance, by suggesting that its representation reveals the contemporary opinion on women who participated in the practices of the theatre. I proceed with a chapter focused on chairs and coaches, to suggest that as symbols of social and sexual power, these are used on the stage to represent women who challenge the patriarchal control of lovers, husbands, and brothers. With a chapter on the tavern, I argue that the drinking practices associated with it are connected to the male realm and exclude female participation by extending to other spaces too. The last chapter, on the park, suggests that the park culture, founded in the early years of the Restoration, persists throughout the repertory and is staged as a space that enables women to fight male control. Developing Restoration drama scholarship which connects the agency of female characters to the representation of space, I provide a case study for each of the four spaces. Focussing on the interactive relationship between repertory and the audience, I ultimately argue that the spatial female representation, by alternating between the condemnation of active women and the emphasis on more socially (and sexually) driven women against submissive ones, indicates the mixed contemporary reaction to the actress.
Supervisor: Lavagnino, John David ; Munro, Lucy Catherine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available