Penn Arts & Sciences Logo
Dramatizing the Novel: Transmedial Exchange in the Long Eighteenth Century
  • Tuesday, April 18, 2023 - 12:00pm to 2:30pm

FBH Faculty Lounge

Working at the intersection of digital humanities, material text studies, media studies, and the history of the theater, this dissertation studies the influence of drama and the theatrical mediascape on the rise of the eighteenth-century novel. The theater and the novel were closely enmeshed in the eighteenth century: novels were adapted to the stage, plays were given a second life in prose, and numerous authors excelled in both forms. This dissertation studies transmedial exchange between the two forms, demonstrating how the eighteenth century’s rich and diverse theatrical medisascape—including actor portraits, perspectival scenery, costumes, playbills, and dramatic texts—shaped formal literary elements, from character to plotting, across both forms. I do so by reading the works of Eliza Haywood, Henry Fielding, Frances Burney, and Maria Edgeworth and studying the adaptation of novels to the eighteenth-century stage. Rejecting the conventional theory of the novel that tracks the genre’s historical progress towards nineteenth-century realism, this project thus offers a picture of a far more experimental eighteenth-century novel, one deeply  enmeshed in, and that emerging from, its own contemporary media environment.

Committee: Chi-ming Yang (co-chair), Michael Gamer (co-chair), Whitney Trettien, Toni Bowers

The public presentation will begin at 12 pm, immediately followed by a reception.

For those who wish to join virtually, please use the following link: