Robert Burroughs, ‘Sailors and Slaves: The ‘Poor Enslaved Tar’ in Naval Reform and Nautical Melodrama’

Recent studies have demonstrated how, far from being confined to the theatre, ‘the melodramatic mode’ permeated various fields of nineteenth-century discourse, including politics and the law. Whereas most of the research in this area to date has concentrated upon domestic melodrama, in this article Robert Burroughs extends the discussion to the ‘tar drama’, or nautical melodrama. Burroughs examines how one example of this sub-genre, J.T. Haines’s My Poll and My Partner Joe (first performed 1835), engages in the political, legal

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