Theatre and Popular Culture in the English Restoration and 18th Century

deadline for submissions: 
May 10, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Department of English and American Studies, Masaryk University

The English theatre culture from the early Restoration to the early 18th century witnessed a marked shift towards increased commercialization and popularization of theatre. Gone were the post-1660 close association with the court, royalist productions, and prominently elite (well-off and upper-class) audiences. Instead, the experimentation with new genres, opening of new theatres, and a growing differentiation of the theatre programme into mainpieces, entr’acte entertainments and afterpieces revolutionized the established cultural hierarchies of the period.

The aim of this issue of THEPES: Theory and Practice in English Studies journal, entitled Theatre and Popular Culture in the English Restoration and 18th Century, is to foster a discussion about the shifting cultural trends of the Restoration and 18th-century drama and theatre and explore the various modes of theatre’s engagement with the popular culture of the period. Were the critics of the period correct in arguing that the wit and sense had been replaced on the English stage by musical spectacles and frivolous entertainment? If so, to what extent? Did the notion of the popular during the Restoration and early 18th century change? Who decides what is elite and what is popular?

We welcome articles which address (but are not limited to) the following topics:

  • theatre as a popular social practice and the growing audience diversification,
  • commercialization and commodification of English theatrical culture,
  • shifting cultural hierarchy of playhouses, performers, and theatrical genres,
  • the allure of entr’acte entertainments and afterpieces,
  • identity construction and the rise of celebrity,
  • period reception of the changing theatrical culture,
  • playhouses and plays’ relationship to other forms of popular culture (rope dancing, broadside ballads, chapbooks, puppetry, novels, fairs, etc),
  • popular culture and theatres outside London,
  • international influences on English popular theatrical culture.

The deadline for submitting your articles is 10th May 2021. Their expected length is between 3,000 and 6,000 words. See our publication guidelines for more information. Please send your articles to with an abstract of up to 250 words.