Popular Culture and Performance in the Victorian City

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This lively and highly innovative book reconstructs the texture and meaning of popular pleasure in the Victorian entertainment industry. Integrating theories of language and social action with close reading of contemporary sources, Peter Bailey provides a richly detailed study of the pub, music-hall, theatre and comic newspaper. Analysis of the interplay between entrepreneurs, performers, social critics and audience reveals distinctive codes of humour, sociability and glamour that constituted a new populist ideology of consumerism and the good time. Bailey shows how the new leisure world offered a repertoire of roles that enabled its audience to negotiate the unsettling encounters of urban life. Bailey offers challenging interpretations of respectability, sexuality, and the cultural politics of class and gender in a distinctive, personal voice.