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Introduction: Obi, Aldridge and Abolition

The pantomime and melodrama versions of Obi, or Three-finger'd Jack played an important role in abolition debates and in the career of Ira Aldridge, the first African-American actor of international stature. This Praxis volume includes essays by preeminent scholars of English Romanticism, theater, and music history on the evolution, performance history, and social and cultural impact of the Obi plays, as well as illustrations and modern video reproductions of scenes from both the pantomime and melodrama versions. This volume also contains the complete text of the melodrama version of Obi.
August 2002

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Directing Obi in 2000

This essay both summarizes and explains two re-stagings with papers of the play Obi; or Three-Fingered Jack (first staged in London in 1800) as these were presented in the year 2000 in two different parts of the United States. One one level, this piece compares the two productions in detail, the one presented in Boston to a community audience and the one presented for academics at the 2000 Conference of the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR). In this process, it tries to account for the rationales of two different directors behind their choices of scenes, perfomance styles, actors, singers, and stagings. It also confronts the difficulties of staging a once-racist musical play—one that changed over time from 1800 into the 1820s—for widely different audiences in America at the most recent turn of the century. It is hoped that this theatrical extension of the larger project of recovering Obi reveals the complex tensions still attached to racism and memories of slavery while it also reconstructs the conditions of theater and imperialism in England at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
August 2002

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Lussier, "Enlightenment East and West: An Introduction to Romanticism and Buddhism"

Rather than summarizing the essays appearing in this special issue of Romantic Circles Praxis, this introductory essay provides a historical context for the emergence of what is now termed 'Buddhism' into European consciousness during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This essay appears in _Romanticism and Buddhism_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (, University of Maryland.
February 2007


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