Keynote speakers

Helen Burke is a Professor of English at Florida State University, Tallahassee, where she teaches British eighteenth-century drama and literature, colonial/postcolonial criticism, and Irish drama. She is the author of Riotous Performances: The Struggle for Hegemony in the Irish Theatre, 1712-1784, which won the Michael J. Durkan Prize for Books on Language or Culture in 2003, awarded by the American Conference for Irish Studies.  She also received an NEH fellowship in support of the research for this book. She is currently working on a book, tentatively entitled “The Irish Diaspora and the Drama of Britain,” that focuses on the drama that Irish immigrant playwrights produced for the London stage. This book argues that this drama provides a hitherto overlooked site for examining the diversity and vitality of the London-Irish strand of the Irish diaspora. Essays relating to this research have been published in Eighteenth-Century Fiction, Eighteenth-Century Life, Éire-Ireland, and the Blackwell Companion to Irish Literature.   Earlier publications include an edition of George Farquhar’s The Beaux Stratagem, and essays on Aphra Behn, Robert Howard, William Wycherley, John Dryden, and George Lillo.

Felicity A. Nussbaum, Distinguished Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles, has published most recently Rival Queens: Actresses, Performance, and the Eighteenth-Century British Theatre (U Penn Press). The book contends that actresses were central to the success of a newly commercial theatre in the period. Socially mobile celebrities, these talented actresses such as Catherine Clive, Margaret Woffington, Frances Abington and George Anne Ballamy achieved varying degrees of cultural authority and financial independence. Among her other books are The Arabian Nights In Historical Context (Oxford UP) with Saree Makdisi; The Limits of the Human: Fictions of Anomaly, Race, and Gender (Cambridge UP); Torrid Zones: Maternity, Sexuality and Empire (Johns Hopkins UP); The Autobiographical Subject: Gender and Ideology in Eighteenth-Century England, which won the Louis Gottschalk Prize (Johns Hopkins UP). Essays on eighteenth-century drama have appeared recently in The Oxford Handbook of the Georgian Theatre and PMLA. A former president of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, she has held NEH, Guggenheim, and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships. Her current interests include unearthing the music accompanying eighteenth-century entertainments about slavery and the Orient, and writing a book on Hester Thrale Piozzi’s writing.



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