Thesis Title: ‘The theatrical cant’: Elocution Books and Late Eighteenth-Century Reading Practices
Supervisor: Professor Abigail Williams
Research Interests: Eighteenth-century British literature; elocution books; the history of the book; theatrical culture and performance; the history of reading; Thomas Sheridan; spouting clubs.
Doctoral Research: My doctoral research looks at late eighteenth-century ‘elocution books’, books concerned with the practice of reading aloud from the period 1750-1800. Books of this kind formed part of the ‘oratorical culture’ of the period, and were marketed at audiences with an interest in reading aloud and participating in amateur performance. Currently in its initial stages, my project contends that elocution books marketed at non-professional readers promoted certain values surrounding morality, class, gender and performance, promising the acquisition of gentility through reading aloud. To aspirational readerships, elocution books offered a social justification for an interest in amateur performance for those who did not have the institutional validation of traditional public spaces used for oratory, such as the university, pulpit, courtroom or professional theatre.