This essay examines how Elizabeth Robins borrowed from the theater to fashion new forms of modern identities for women. Robins combines melodramatic and burlesque performance genres in ways that alter the conventions of realist narrative and prefigure the cosmopolitan, fluid subjectivities of high modernism. Ranging from anti- and pro-British women's suffrage rhetoric to emergent forms of leisure activities and crowd theories, this essay contextualizes the problems, fears, and advantages of cross-class identifications. While Robins ultimately contains these sexualized, working-class energies, she nonetheless documents a powerful critique of middle-class forms of subjectivity and knowledge that imagines a leveling of class hierarchies.


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