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Abstract

This essay explores how the early American stage functioned as an incubator for ideas about national identity, artistic expression, and masculinity. Reading four plays from the early years of the Republic – Royall Tyler’s The Contrast, William Dunlap’s André, John Augustus Stone’s Metamora, and Robert Montgomery Bird’s The Gladiator, I demonstrate how early American drama addressed changing concepts of ideal masculinity, republican democracy, and the colonial past.