Hot off the press! Sara Lampert, "Bringing Music to the Lyceumites: The Bureaus and the Transformation of Lyceum Entertainment" in The Cosmopolitan Lyceum: Lecture Culture and the Globe in Nineteenth-Century America, edited by Tom F. Wright (University of Massachusetts Press, 2013).
My main project at the moment is my monograph, Sentiment and Sensation: How Female Celebrities Transformed American Entertainment, 1820-1860. Sentiment and Sensation tells the stories of European and American women who sought livelihoods and celebrity on the American stage between the 1820s and the Civil War. In this work of collective and critical biography I examine the tumultuous careers of actresses Fanny Kemble, Charlotte Cushman, and Jean Davenport; dancers Fanny Elssler and Lola Montez; and singers Jenny Lind and the "Black Swan" Elizabeth Greenfield. These women were celebrated within a culture that was struggling to define woman’s place, woman’s role, and woman’s nature. Women in the early- to mid-19th-century were taught to aspire to a virtuous life of domesticity and motherhood, allowing their husbands to tackle the concerns of public life, from business to politics. Female performers were obvious exceptions to this model. They were public figures, engaged in business, whose mobile careers in the morally dangerous world of the theater did not allow for a life of virtuous domesticity. But it was in their capacity as exceptional that female performers contributed to the ongoing negotiation of gender roles in a modernizing society. My book also connects these stories with three additional subplots: the emergence of a nineteenth-century celebrity culture, the negotiation of American identity and cultural and economy autonomy, and the struggle over the social ownership and culture of American theaters during a period of major social change in American cities.
The stories of these figures bring together my interests in the history of celebrity, popular entertainment, labor and capitalism, the construction of race, gender, and sexuality, and the negotiation of national identity in 19th-century America.
I'm also working a side project on women in the lyceum lecture circuit.
Interested in reading more about my work? Check out the following posts: