Guest Contributors

The Circus in America project will work with other scholars to prepare contextual and interpretative essays for designated categories . Time lines will draw parallels to the circus and other cultural and historical events that occurred in the United States during the project’s time frame, such as the development of the American railroad and how this impacted the circus and its ability to bring its style of entertainment to all parts of the country that the railroad could reach. Noted scholars will include:

Dr. Janet Davis, professor of American studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Davis will contribute by writing essays, especially concerning areas with potential racist overtones, such as African-Americans and Native Americans as they were depicted in advertising posters and used as performers and circus employees. She is the author of The Circus Age: Culture and Society Under the American Big Top.

Dr. Davis visited the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities in October 2005. "Bearded Ladies, Dainty Amazons, Hindoo Fakirs, and Lady Savages: Circus Representations of Gender and Race in Victorian America", discussed gender and race issues in the American circus. Video clips from her lecture are available here. Please note: The videos were captured in MPEG-4 format. They can be viewed in Quicktime, VLC Media Player, or other media players compatible to the MPEG-4 format.

The text of Dr. Davis' talk, is available to download here. [24 page pdf] No part of this talk can be reproduced without the expressed permission of Dr. Davis.

John W. Frick, Professor, Theatre History, University of Virginia History Department. Read his essays below:

"Fireworks, Bonfires, Ballrooms and More." New York’s Palace Garden." by John W. Frick. REPRINTED BY PERMISSION OF PERFORMING ARTS RESOURCES.

"Monday The Herald Tuesday the Victoria (Re)Packaging, and (Re)Presenting the Celebrated and the Notorious on the Popular Stage." by John W. Frick. REPRINTED BY PERMISSION OF NINETEENTH CENTURY THEATRE AND FILM.

Fred Dahlinger, Jr., the former head librarian for the Circus World Museum, has written numerous articles on the circus and the railroad. Mr. Dahlinger will work to develop essays on advances of the railroads and corresponding developments in the circus.

Stuart Thayer, an expert on the development of the American circus between 1793 and 1860, has offered to work on the project, specifically advising in developing the contextual information relating to the development of the circus in America.


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