Irish on the Move: Performing Mobility in American Variety Theatre

Irish on the Move: Performing Mobility in American Variety Theatre

by Michelle Granshaw


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A little over a century ago, the Irish in America were the targets of intense xenophobic anxiety. Much of that anxiety centered on their mobility, whether that was traveling across the ocean to the U.S., searching for employment in urban centers, mixing with other ethnic groups, or forming communities of their own. Granshaw argues that American variety theatre, a precursor to vaudeville, was a crucial battleground for these anxieties, as it appealed to both the fears and the fantasies that accompanied the rapid economic and social changes of the Gilded Age.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781609386696
Publisher: University of Iowa Press
Publication date: 12/01/2019
Series: Studies Theatre Hist & Culture Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Michelle Granshaw is assistant professor of theatre arts at the University of Pittsburgh.

What People are Saying About This

Amy E. Hughes

“Both timely and relevant, Irish on the Move is an important contribution to theater historiography, but the book will also interest readers seeking to understand the historical roots of nationalist, anti-immigrant, white supremacist discourse in the contemporary United States.”—Amy E. Hughes, author, Spectacles of Reform: Theater and Activism in Nineteenth- Century America

Tice Miller

“In Irish on the Move, the journey of the immigrant to claim the right to be here, which is resisted by the dominant culture, results in a kind of dance that changes both the immigrant and the local population. Granshaw’s research is impressive and this book makes an important contribution to Irish American history.”—Tice Miller, author, Entertaining the Nation: American Drama in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Elizabeth Reitz Mullenix

“While much has been written previously about some of the variety theatre that Granshaw explores, no one has done what she has done. She is introducing a revelatory new voice to the literature, one that expands previous understandings of antebellum theatre and performance and at the same time contributes to contemporary research in the humanities about power and migration.”—Elizabeth Reitz Mullenix, Miami University

Peter P. Reed

Irish on the Move shows how the acts of stage tramps, variety shows, and even competitive pedestrians shaped the lives and perceptions of America’s mobile and networked Irish, while contributing to America’s distinctive theatre culture.”—Peter P. Reed, author, Rogue Performances: Staging the Underclasses in Early American Theatre Culture

M. Alison Kibler

“Granshaw’s new book is an imaginative, incisive examination of Irish American mobility in popular theater, showing how popular culture and revolutionary politics shaped each other.”—M. Alison Kibler, author, Censoring Racial Ridicule: Irish, Jewish, and African American Struggles over Race and Representation

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