Editing Wikipedia Part 2
Today’s task was a follow up to my previous Women in Red wikipediathon, and I have done some pretty good work. (Flourish of own small trumpet.) I have added the section below (with image to boot), and several links to essential reference work, including Sophie Marie Coulombeau, ‘New Perspectives on the Burney Family’, Special issue of Eighteenth-Century Life 42, 2 (2018) ISSN 0098-2601; Mascha Gemmeke, Frances Burney and the Female Bildungsroman: An Interpretation of The Wanderer; or, Female Difficulties. Frankfurt/M: Peter Lang, 2004; Jacqueline Pearson, “‘Crushing the Convent and the Dread Bastille’: Anglo-Saxons, Revolution, and Gender in Women’s Plays of the 1790s,” in D. Scragg and C. Weinberg (eds), Literary Appropriations of the Anglo-Saxons from the Thirteenth to the Twentieth Century (CUP, 2000), 122–27. I also added my own essay, Saggini, Francesca. “From Evelina to The Woman-Hater: Frances Burney and the Joyce of Dramatic Rewriting, in Studi settecenteschi nr. 20, Bibliopolis, Napoli, 2000, pp. 315-33”. UnitusOpen.
As far as I am concerned, the Burney wikipedia page is a living work. I shall join the Women in Red over the next months to populate and, hopefully, improve the Burney page. As our Wikimedian in residence, Ewan McAndrew, says, wikipedia “is the 8th most visited site in the UK, and 9th most visited globally (rankings by Alexa).” Let us see how Wikipedia can contribute to the public-facing impact of my project.
The Court Plays
From 1788, Burney’s diaries record the composition of a small number of playtexts which were neither performed nor published in the author’s lifetime, remaining in manuscript until 1995. These are the dramatic fragment conventionally known as Elberta and three completed plays copied out in beautiful handwriting in ordered booklets, suitable for private circulation, if perhaps not publication. These are Edwy and Elgiva, Hubert de Vere, and The Siege of Pevensey. Edwy and Elgiva was the only one to be staged, although for one night only, on 21 March 1795, garnering unanimous negative reviews from the public and critics. The long-delayed publication of these plays has kept critics away, with the exception of very few. Even for the handful of scholars who have dealt with them, these texts remain devoid of particular dramatic qualities, indeed ‘wretched’, as they are often called: in the form in which they have come to us they seem too long to be staged; characterizations are stereotyped; the endings are weak, and the plots convoluted and inconsistent. The style, rhetorical and emphatic, makes them sound clumsy and heavy to the modern ear. However, when properly contextualized and studied as theatrical texts, rather than as unfortunate second-order productions within the works of a successful novelist as Burney, the four Court plays suggest a distinct thematic-stylistic-discursive alignment, more in line with the dramatic production of the late 18th century than has been recognized thus far.