Felicia Hemans turned to drama in the early 1820s, during the Napoleonic aftermath and Restoration of Continental monarchies, and produced a series of historical plays employing the past as a lens to examine the ideological and socio-political forces at work in the present. Significantly, this output took the form of closet plays: the four dramatic scenes entitled Sebastian of Portugal (1822); The Siege of Valencia (1823); and her fragmentary drama De Chatillon; or, the Crusaders (1824). Even The Vespers of Palermo, performed with disappointing results in 1823 and 1824, was originally conceived as a closet text. Together, these works comprise a cohesive corpus dealing with plots set from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, in Southern European or Middle Eastern locations, and focusing on moments of crisis and emergency for communities under attack, besieged, occupied or risking obliteration. Thus, in play after play, Hemans invited readers to question ideas of state and nation at a time when Europe’s political map had been redrawn to ensure the return to an ancien regime normality actually riven with deep-lying tensions. This essay looks at Hemans’s dramatic production as an integrated whole, and in doing so it re-evaluates the closet play as crucial to an investigation of women’s Romantic-era theatre and its engagements with historical change and political instability. Combining formal and historical approaches, the essay argues that the expressive features of the closet play enabled Hemans to fashion an interplay of voices untrammelled by the restrictions of acting drama, enabling her to interpellate the field of opposing forces within post-Napoleonic Europe. Through the example of Hemans, this essay demonstrates that closet drama offered Romantic-period playwrights, and especially women, a space of expressive liberation opening up new avenues for formal experimentation and political engagement.

“Restoration in the Closet: Felicia Hemans’s Drama in the Napoleonic Aftermath” / Saglia, Diego. - STAMPA. - (2019), pp. 112-126.

“Restoration in the Closet: Felicia Hemans’s Drama in the Napoleonic Aftermath”

saglia, diego
2019

Abstract

Felicia Hemans turned to drama in the early 1820s, during the Napoleonic aftermath and Restoration of Continental monarchies, and produced a series of historical plays employing the past as a lens to examine the ideological and socio-political forces at work in the present. Significantly, this output took the form of closet plays: the four dramatic scenes entitled Sebastian of Portugal (1822); The Siege of Valencia (1823); and her fragmentary drama De Chatillon; or, the Crusaders (1824). Even The Vespers of Palermo, performed with disappointing results in 1823 and 1824, was originally conceived as a closet text. Together, these works comprise a cohesive corpus dealing with plots set from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, in Southern European or Middle Eastern locations, and focusing on moments of crisis and emergency for communities under attack, besieged, occupied or risking obliteration. Thus, in play after play, Hemans invited readers to question ideas of state and nation at a time when Europe’s political map had been redrawn to ensure the return to an ancien regime normality actually riven with deep-lying tensions. This essay looks at Hemans’s dramatic production as an integrated whole, and in doing so it re-evaluates the closet play as crucial to an investigation of women’s Romantic-era theatre and its engagements with historical change and political instability. Combining formal and historical approaches, the essay argues that the expressive features of the closet play enabled Hemans to fashion an interplay of voices untrammelled by the restrictions of acting drama, enabling her to interpellate the field of opposing forces within post-Napoleonic Europe. Through the example of Hemans, this essay demonstrates that closet drama offered Romantic-period playwrights, and especially women, a space of expressive liberation opening up new avenues for formal experimentation and political engagement.
9781138092563
“Restoration in the Closet: Felicia Hemans’s Drama in the Napoleonic Aftermath” / Saglia, Diego. - STAMPA. - (2019), pp. 112-126.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11381/2854884
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