Bringing together two understudied and underappreciated Restoration literary genres—pathetic tragedy and secret history—I argue for a realignment of genre through reception practices and affect. Traditional attempts to reconcile Restoration tragedy and secret history within broader generic traditions (of tragedy and of the novel respectively) have led to a devaluation of many of these complex texts. By considering the socially oriented reception practices associated with these genres, I argue that, for contemporary readers and audiences, they would have been more closely associated to each other than with a generic tradition. The affective element of social reception further reveals an ideological complexity within the texts, specifically surrounding notions of female virtue and political subjecthood. Authors treated in some length include Delarivier Manley, Thomas Otway, Nicholas Brady and Elkanah Settle. Other texts examined include Gabriel de Brémond’s Hattige and the anonymous texts The Player’s Tragedy and The Perplex’d Prince.
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Thesis advisor: Schellenberg, Betty
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