Professor Sos Eltis
- Fellow of the College
Tutorial Fellow in English
M.A., M.Phil., D.Phil. (Oxon).
Undergraduate and graduate teaching
Victorian, Modern and Contemporary Literature. Special interest in drama.
Oscar Wilde; Victorian, modern and contemporary drama; performance studies and theatre history; sexuality and gender; sensation novel, late-Victorian gothic and New Women writing; women’s suffrage; theatre and politics.
I have commenced work on a new book, Ingenious Theatres, on Victorian and Edwardian performance, approaching this rich, vibrant, and exciting field from the critical perspective of recent scholarship on contemporary theatre and performance. This book is not a historical study or overview, as the majority of works on nineteenth-century theatre have tended to be, but rather an exercise in thinking with and through Victorian performance to explore the ways in which it disrupts, complicates, and confounds so many assumptions about nineteenth-century culture and society. The book will contain chapters on concepts of democracy, technology and modernity, representations of work and labour on stage, gender and sexuality, the relation between theatre and the novel, theatrical long-runs and the popular repertoire, realism and meta-theatricality, and theatres of opposition and protest. The chapter on democracy, for example, will commence with the Old Price Riots of 1809, in which the audience took over Covent Garden Theatre and enacted theatrical forms of protest until seat prices were reduced and the classes desegregated. The Riots epitomised the audience’s sense of ownership over the theatre, a forum in which plots could be rewritten and endings revised by popular demand. The chapter on gender and sexuality will look at cross-dressing and cross-gender casting, not just in the thigh-slapping manner of pantomime but also in the naturalistic acting of Vesta Tilley, Marie Wilson, and Mary Keeley, exploring how the reception of their performances complicated gender binaries and produced subtle and surprising responses, critically, erotically, and theoretically. The chapter on character will consider how theatrical performance expressed identity through gesture, movement, and costume, not simply via the cliches of character types but with disconcerting fluidity of identity, blending off-stage and on-stage personae, constructing complex relations between external appearance and internal psychology. This is a book about the irrepressible, ingenious, and multifarious nature of Victorian theatre – the multivocality at the heart of the nineteenth century.
Revising Wilde: Society and Subversion in the Plays of Oscar Wilde(Oxford University Press, 1996)
Acts of Desire: women and sex on stage, 1800-1930 (Oxford University Press, 2013)
George Bernard Shaw, Mrs Warren’s Profession, Candida, You Never Can Tell, edited and with an introduction by Sos Eltis (Oxford University Press, Oxford World’s Classics: Oxford, 2021)
- ‘“The weakest link”: suffrage writing, class interests and the isolated woman of leisure’, in The Politics of Women’s Suffrage: local, nationa,l and international dimensions, ed. Alexandra Hughes-Johnson and Lyndsey Jenkins (New Historical Perspectives, University of London Press: London. November 2021)
- ‘In the Eye of the Beholder: Decadent Theatre, New Women, and Neurotics’, in The Oxford Handbook of Decadence, ed. Jane Desmerais and David Weir (OUP: Oxford, July 2021)
- ‘Theatre and Decadence’, Decadence: A Literary History, ed. Alex Murray (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2020)
- “‘It’s all symbiosis’: Peter Hall directing Beckett”, Staging Samuel Beckett in Great Britain, ed. David Tucker and Trish McTighe (Bloomsbury Methuen, forthcoming 2016)
- “Women’s Suffrage and Theatricality”, Politics, Performance and Popular Culture, ed. Kate Newey and Peter Yeandle (Manchester University Press, forthcoming 2015)
- “From Sex-war to Factory Floor: Theatrical Depictions of Women’s Work during the First World War”, British Theatre and the Great War, 1914–1919 (Palgrave, 2015)
- “The Importance of Being Earnest: performance, sincerity and self-creation”, Wilde in Earnest, ed. Emily Eells (Presses Universitaires de Paris Ouest, 2015)
- “Representing Work”, Late Victorian into Modern, 1880-1920: 21st-Century Approaches to Literature, ed. Laura Marcus, Michèle Mendelssohn and Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (OUP, 2015)
- “Performance and Identity in the Plays of Oscar Wilde”, in Oscar Wilde, ed. Jarlath Killeen (Irish Writers in their Time Series, Irish Academic Press, 2011)
- "Bringing out the acid: Noël Coward, Harold Pinter, Ivy Compton-Burnett and the uses of camp", Modern Drama 51: 2, (Summer 2008)
- "Suffrage, Sex and the Single Girl: the fallen woman in Edwardian Feminist Drama", English Literature in Transition, 50:1 (2007)
- "Private Lives and Public Spaces: Reputation, Celebrity and the Late-Victorian Actress", in Theatre and Celebrity in Britain, 1660-2000, ed Mary Luckhurst and Jane Moody, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
- “Approaches to teaching Wilde's Plays", in Approaches to Teaching Oscar Wilde, ed. Philip E. Smith, (Modern Languages Association of America, 2008)
- “Private Lives and Public Spaces: Reputation, Celebrity and the Late-Victorian Actress”, in Theatre and Celebrity in Britain, 1660-2000, ed Mary Luckhurst and Jane Moody, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
- "The Fallen Woman on Stage: Maidens, Magdalens and the Emancipated Female” in The Cambridge Companion to Victorian and Edwardian Drama, ed. Kerry Powell (Cambridge University Press, 2004)
- “Corruption of the Blood and Degeneration of the Race: Dracula and Policing the Borders of Gender”, in Dracula, ed. John Paul Riquelme (Bedford/ St Martin's Press, 2002), pp.450-465.
English Faculty Chair, 2007-10, 2014-15.
Convenor, Drama in Performance seminar series (co-convened with Emma Smith, Laurie Maguire, Tiffany Stern, Sophie Duncan, Kirsten Shepherd-Barr)
Senior Member and Senior Treasurer, Oxford University Dramatic Society
Member of the Board, Oxford Playhouse
Academic Co-ordinator, Humanitas Professorship of Drama.
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