“List your top ten playwrights from the nineteenth century. . . . Or name your top ten plays from the nineteenth century. How about your top five? Three?” So theater historian Matthew Rebhorn challenges readers in a recent J19 forum on American drama (“Introduction: ‘Nineteenth-Century’ ‘American’ ‘Theater’ and ‘Performance’” J19 6.2 [2018]: 391]. If you are drawing a blank, you are not alone. You may pause before reciting a few dramatic adaptations of novels or standby plays in anthologies (George Aiken’s dramatization of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin [1852], Dion Boucicault’s The Octoroon [1859], maybe John Augustus Stone’s Metamora [1829]). Perhaps you are more comfortable naming certain genres of performance such as minstrelsy or melodrama? Or maybe you think of familiar images— “the one with the woman tied up on the train tracks”—even if, in fact, it is a shackled man...

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