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|Title:||Dramatic Anxieties: William Bodham Donne, Censorship and the Victorian Theatre, 1849-1874|
|Keywords:||Victorian era, social issues, anxieties, Donne's censorship of dramatists, theatre|
|Abstract:||While writers of the Victorian era were free to address contemporary social issues, playwrights were forced to contend with government censorship that ostensibly discouraged them from debating politically controversial topics. An adjunct of the Lord Chamberlain's Office, the Examiner of Plays was responsible for censoring morally and politically sensitive material, giving this individual tremendous influence over the English stage. My dissertation, Dramatic Anxieties: William Bodham Donne, Censorship and the Victorian Theatre, 1849-18 74, focuses on the career of one dramatic censor, William Bodham Donne (1807-82). Throughout his tenure as Examiner (1849-74), Donne controlled the written content of every play performed in every theatre in England. His was a position of remarkable cultural and social influence, offering him the opportunity to shape the performed drama, and thereby the attitudes of those who attended it. This study examines Donne's censorship of dramatists' attempts to treat in a serious manner such political and social issues as Anglo-Jewish emancipation, Chartism, the repeal of the Com Laws, prison reform, and the condition of the working classes. I demonstrate that to evaluate the cultural impact of dramatic censorship in the Victorian period requires an understanding of the ongoing tension between Donne and the playwrights who, despite the professional ignominy that accompanied censorship, often struggled to address the political and social issues of their time. The relationship between Victorian playwrights and the Examiner involves a cultural dialectic that negotiates the boundaries of a licensed public space. In exposing the explicit and implicit pressures which one such Examiner brought to bear on dramatists, this study begins to uncover what is still a largely unexplored feature of Victorian theatre history.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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