Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS Book Launch: The Arms Bearing-Woman and British Theatre in the Age of Revolution

15 June 2023, 6:30 pm–8:30 pm

Book Cover of Arms Bearing Woman

Join Sarah Burdett for the hybrid launch of her book The Arms Bearing-Woman and British Theatre in the Age of Revolution, 1789-1815

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Institute of Advanced Studies


Online and IAS Common Ground, G11
Ground floor, Wilkins building
UCL, Gower Street, London
United Kingdom

The Arms Bearing-Woman and British Theatre in the Age of Revolution, 1789-1815 explores shifting representations and receptions of the arms-bearing woman on the British stage during a period in which she comes to stand in Britain as a striking symbol of revolutionary chaos. It presents the British Romantic theatre as an arena in which the significance of the armed woman is constantly remodelled and reappropriated to fulfil diverse ideological functions. Used to challenge as well as to enforce established notions of sex and gender difference, she is fashioned also as an allegorical tool, serving both to condemn and to champion political and social rebellion at home and abroad. Magnifying heroines who appear on stage wielding pistols, brandishing daggers, thrusting swords, and even firing explosives, the study spotlights the intricate and often surprising ways in which the stage amazon interacts with Anglo-French, Anglo-Irish, Anglo-German, and Anglo-Spanish debates at varying moments across the French revolutionary and Napoleonic campaigns. At the same time, it foregrounds the extent to which new dramatic genres imported from Europe - notably, the German Sturm und Drang and the French-derived melodrama - facilitate possibilities for a refashioned female warrior, whose degree of agency, destructiveness, and heroism surpasses that of her tragic and sentimental predecessor.

Respondents will be Dr David Taylor (Oxford), Professor Helen Brooks (Kent) and Professor Kate Astbury (Warwick).

About the Speaker

Sarah Burdett

Dr Sarah Burdett is Lecturer in English Literature at UCL. She received her BA in English from the University of East Anglia and completed her MA and PhD at the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, University of York. Sarah has published work on female-perpetrated violence on the eighteenth-century stage, practice-led theatre research, early nineteenth-century Irish drama, and the Georgian actress, and has been awarded Research Fellowships from the Bodleian Library, Oxford; and the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC.