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"A crowned and selected band of women" : Tasmanian actress/celebrities of the nineteenth century & "home-grown" identity


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Anae, N 2005 , '"A crowned and selected band of women" : Tasmanian actress/celebrities of the nineteenth century & "home-grown" identity', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Australian celebrity culture of the nineteenth century combines personal success,
and the ideal constructions.of the individual and homeland, with the persuasive
power of the media to offer the celebrated a means of public visibility and
nationality. This thesis engages with the intersections between media and
celebrity culture of the nineteenth century by exploring the intimate relationships
between the construction of gender and the "localisation" of place. It examines
the representation of a number of Tasmanian-born actresses received as
celebrities during the period and historicises about the slippery nature of state
of origin when contextualised in what developed into a greater picture of global
media culture. It places these representations alongside those of off-shore
actresses and presents a "new" picture of women's engagement in colonial
culture and their social power. The thesis also argues that the Tasmanian
provenance of celebrated stage women such as Emma and Clelia Howson,
Hattie Shepparde, the Carandini Sisters, Lucy Chambers, Amy Sherwin, and
others, offered the State's population a lively and highly visible collection of
cultural exemplars. The thesis will interweave the narratives of their careers into
an analysis of contemporary and modern-day understandings of Australian
identity in two ways. First, it contends that these women heralded the dawn of a
new public visibility for women as professionals, decades before the
mobilisation of women's groups and suffrage leagues in this country. Second, it
traces their international successes as a way of demonstrating their contribution
to establishing the cultural roots of what is now known collectively as "the
Australian context." My research reveals that an important cultural
breakthrough coincided with the international tours of these women because
their achievement popularised, and therefore revolutionised, a new means of
gesturing Australian homeland offshore. A historicised and "localised" concept of celebrity is a valuable tool of analysis when considering that actresses
generally are continually overlooked as proactive conduits of social change, and
especially since their achievements as legitimate cultural agents were celebrated
in an era that is routinely considered as oppressive and restrictive for women.
The aim of the thesis is to explore how colonial society relied on Tasmanian-born
actresses as sources of cultural identification and how such figures enabled the
performance of identity as a result. There is, in the development of Australian
celebrity culture from the 1840s until the early twentieth century, an overt
politicisation of Tasmanian cultural identity. Coupled with this phenomenon is
a social evolution in changes to attitudes about "Tasmanian-ness" that can be
traced directly to the instrumental achievements of Tasmanian-born celebrity
actresses of the period.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Anae, N
Keywords: Women in the theater, Women
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2005 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2005.

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