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Response J ANE MOODY’S LIFE AND WORK ABOUNDED WITH JOYFULNESS, INNOVATION, surprise, love for family, friends, and colleagues, and, of course, intellec­ tual brilliance of the highest order. It is right and fitting, then, that the es­ says in this memorial volume sparkle with the same qualities, and pay trib­ ute to her “illegitimate legacy” by following in the bright pathways, both personal and professional, that she marked out for us. As her husband and her colleague, I would like to thank the authors of these essays, Kevin Gilmartin in particular, for organizing the MLA Panel and editing this vol­ ume with graceful intelligence, as well as all those many individuals so touched by Jane in the wider circles of family, friendship, and profession, for their dedication to keeping the tremendous spirit of her many legacies, “legitimate” and “illegitimate,” alive and thriving. It is impossible to summarize, embellish, or even adequately highlight the cornucopia of insights and exploratory soundings in the work ofJane and her splendid colleagues featured in this volume of Studies in Romanti­ cism. However, I would like to take a stab at emphasizingjust one leitmotif or motion that runs deeply and pervasively throughout Jane’s writings and the fine contributions to this volume: that is what we might call the super­ abundant, often uproarious “border crossings” at the heart ofRomantic era theater and the conversations about them enacted by Jane and her col­ leagues. Jeff Cox explores, for instance, the paratexts—theater reviews, toy theaters, music, theatrical venues—that are crucial to our efforts to com­ prehend the almost limitless contours and cultural significance of harlequi­ nade on stage. Julie Carlson shows how the Georgian theater opened its doors and its audiences to children, and she invites us to explore the ways in which stage enchantments shaped the creative imaginations of authors such as Mary Shelley in childhood. Gillian Russell touches on this point in relation to a young Robert Southey’s delight with playbills. I have also come across a similar account by Mary Russell Mitford of the incredible thrill and lifetime inspiration of seeing her first play at the age of six, in a Reading barn, standing in the front row, eyes wide, next to her equally en­ thralled dog, Trencher. Jane looked to her favorite critic, William Hazlitt, to foreground this lifelong, profound imaginative sustenance granted by the adventure of the Romantic era stage. In her epigraph to Illegitimate Theatre, Hazlitt thus emerges as the first to speak: Our associations of admiration and delight with theatrical performers, are among our earliest recollections—among our last regrets. They are SiR, 54 (Summer 2015) 295 296 GREG KUCICH links that connect the beginning and the end of life together; their bright and giddy career of popularity measures the arch that spans our brief existence. (The Times, 25 June 1817) Illustrating the various ways in which such a theatrical “arch” consists of both the materiality of stage performance and the ephemerality of playbills, Russell demonstrates that “print culture” and “theatricality are profoundly imbricated” in the overall history of the Romantic era stage and its strong relation to sociopolitical forces swirling both within and without the the­ ater. Daniel O’Quinn tracks the porous flow of energies between legiti­ mate and illegitimate theater, the intrinsic focus of Cox’s work on panto­ mime as well, a dismantling of theatrical hierarchies that at once upholds and tears apart cultural prejudices. In his excellent Introduction to this volume, Kevin Gilmartin nicely pin­ points the intrinsic connection between such “border crossings” in Ro­ mantic era theater and the “dazzling range” ofjane’s expertise across a wide spectrum of “formal, aesthetic, performative, institutional, cultural, social, and political registers.” Following from this deep regard for Jane’s stunning fluidity of insight—also manifested in her multiple finesse as theater histo­ rian, literary critic, and cultural historian across the wide span of the eight­ eenth and nineteenth centuries—Gilmartin notes her fundamental, almost instinctive, capacity to spot, theorize, and interpret the minute “cross­ fertilization[s] ” of dramatic genres, literary and political discourses, theatri­ cal and social institutions. She was, indeed, “a master ofthe unstable dialec­ tic” that reveals in the end not a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2330-118X
Print ISSN
0039-3762
Pages
pp. 295-298
Launched on MUSE
2020-03-13
Open Access
No
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