Alexander Frid

Priya Shah.GIF (23233 bytes)
Priya Shah

Priya Shah was particularly intrigued with the study of Charlotte Charke because of this woman's unique nature and experiences. Priya advises students to only commit to a project that they feel passionately about.  Passion for a subject is an integral part of any type of research.  It is that passion that will motivate an undergraduate to see the project all the way through to completion; it is that passion that will make one's work rewarding. triangle.gif (504 bytes)




Eighteenth-century British actress Charlotte Charke was notorious for her cross-dressing on- and off-stage.  A common theme found in research done on Charke is the theatricality inherent in her life.   Theatricality is a heightened concern for representing the elements of theatre, such as performance, acting, and the dramatic, both on the stage and in other contexts.   The roles Charke undertakes support her theatricality and also unearth Charke's conflicted relationship with conventionality.  Firstly, along with dramatic roles, Charke played many real life male occupational roles, all retold in A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Charlotte Charke.  Although motivations for the taking of each role differ, the underlying motivation of theatricality always exists.  Secondly, there are the stage roles Charke debuted.  The existence of typecasting allows for strong assumptions regarding her audience-perceived identity; it is apparent that by 1736, her audience considered Charke an irrevocably unconventional woman.  In writing the Narrative, Charke interprets the role of author as that of playwright and reconciles the dichotomy between her untraditional life and the conventional persona she seeks to forward to her readers by emphasizing the theatricality in her transgressions.triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Faculty Mentor                                                                                                                
Robert Folkenflik.GIF (17043 bytes)

Robert Folkenflik

School of Humanities

Charlotte Charke, the cross-dressing daughter of Colley Cibber, Poet Laureate of England and enemy of the preeminent 18th century English poet Alexander Pope, wrote this autobiography after her father disowned her, and she made her precarious living as a strolling actress in the provinces.  Priya Shah began this study by working along with me as I dealt with problems connected with my editing, annotating, and introducing an edition of Charke's Narrative (1755).  While not a laboratory, the course she took with me functioned as a workshop and introduced her to the sorts of problems scholars in the Humanities face and how they solve them.  Priya's poster presentation and her later delivery of her essay, both through UROP, were of great value in establishing and confirming her interest in going on with this kind of work as a career.triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Priya Shah - The World is a Stage: Theatricality, Conventionality... [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

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