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Acts of DesireWomen and Sex on Stage 1800-1930$
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Sos Eltis

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199691357

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691357.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
Acts of Desire
Author(s):

Sos Eltis

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691357.003.0001

This chapter sets out the centrality and popularity of plays about illicit female sexuality from 1800 to the present day. Plots, tropes, and narratives endure across the centuries, being revised and adapted by successive playwrights to produce ‘intertheatrical dialogues’ and meanings which formed an essential element in audiences’ understanding of the plays. This chapter argues that theatre has long been neglected in studies of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century attitudes to and literary depictions of female sexuality, and that the study of the dramatic representations of ‘fallen’ women from 1800 to 1930 reveals far greater complexity, multiplicity, and licence than has previously been acknowledged. It also argues that the theatre exercised a powerful influence on public discourses on prostitution, and engaged in close dialogue with other artistic media

Keywords:   female sexuality, theatre, repertoire, fallen woman, censorship, prostitute

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