Launched in February 2015, the research project “Gender and Comedy in the Age of the American Revolution” focuses on early American drama – that is, drama written in the course of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Many of the plays and playwrights examined in this project, though highly popular at the time, have been dismissed as poor imitations and imitators of British dramatic genius and have consequently faded into oblivion. A central concern of this project is to revisit and re-evaluate the largely forgotten early contributions to America’s dramatic canon. The role and influence of female dramatists in an era which is still regarded as inherently ‘male’ constitutes a special focus of the project. Above all, we seek to challenge biased, male-centric, and heteronormative readings and interpretations of early American comedies. In doing so, we hope to provide more comprehensive and accurate insights into America’s theater history, the early American social, political, and cultural landscape, and the subversive power of comic dramatic genres in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
“Gender and Comedy in the Age of the American Revolution” is a three-year project funded by the Austrian Science Fund, FWF, and based at the University of Salzburg.