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Personal Properties: Stage Props and Self-Expression in British Drama, 1600-1707

Description: This dissertation examines the role of stage properties-props, slangily-in the construction and expression of characters' identities. Through readings of both canonical and non-canonical drama written between 1600 and 1707-for example, Thomas Middleton's The Revenger's Tragedy (1607), Edward Ravenscroft's adaptation of Titus Andronicus (1678), Aphra Behn's The Rover (1677), and William Wycherley's The Plain Dealer (1677)-I demonstrate how props mediate relationships between people. The control of a character's props often accords a person control of the character to whom the props belong. Props consequently make visual the relationships of power and subjugation that exist among characters. The severed body parts, bodies, miniature portraits, and containers of these plays are the mechanisms by which characters attempt to differentiate themselves from others. The characters deploy objects as proof of their identities-for example, when the women in Behn's Rover circulate miniatures of themselves-yet other characters must also interpret these objects. The props, and therefore the characters' identities, are at all times vulnerable to misinterpretation. Much as the props' meanings are often disputed, so too are characters' private identities often at odds with their public personae. The boundaries of selfhood that the characters wish to protect are made vulnerable by the objects that they use to shore up those boundaries. When read in relation to the characters who move them, props reveal the negotiated process of individuation. In doing so, they emphasize the correlation between extrinsic and intrinsic worth. They are a measure of how well characters perform gender and class rolls, thereby demonstrating the importance of external signifiers in the legitimation of England's subjects, even as they expose "legitimacy" as a social construction.
Date: December 2009
Creator: Bender, Ashley Brookner
Partner: UNT Libraries

[Bobby Peters sitting on set]

Description: Photograph of Bobby Peters on the set of the Bobby Peters Show. He sits on a stool next to a prop box with a record player on top. He has vinyl records in his right hand and he sits in front of a musical background with a camera filming him.
Date: February 16, 1950
Creator: WBAP-TV (Television station : Fort Worth, Tex.)
Partner: UNT Libraries Special Collections

[News Clip: Nutcracker]

Description: B-roll video footage from the KXAS-TV/NBC station in Fort Worth, Texas, to accompany a news story. This story aired at 10pm.
Date: December 26, 1988, 10:00 p.m.
Creator: KXAS-TV (Television station : Fort Worth, Tex.)
Partner: UNT Libraries Special Collections

[Bobby Peters with dog house]

Description: Photograph of Bobby Peters on set standing next to a fake dog house. An actor crouches inside the doghouse, partially obscured. An audience of women sits in two rows on the stage.
Date: July 14, 1950
Creator: WBAP-TV (Television station : Fort Worth, Tex.)
Partner: UNT Libraries Special Collections

[Puppet show forest scene]

Description: Photograph of a forest scene from the The Dean Raymond Puppet Show featuring two puppets. The canine puppet with an eyepatch and the longhorn puppet wearing a plaid shirt hold a long "saw" between them and appear to have cut down a tree. A miniature tree log sits in front of them on the puppet stage.
Date: September 6, 1950
Creator: WBAP-TV (Television station : Fort Worth, Tex.)
Partner: UNT Libraries Special Collections