Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/03/2020

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Branch, Lori

First Committee Member

Gilbert, Miriam

Second Committee Member

Chapel, Robert

Third Committee Member

Cox, Jeffrey

Fourth Committee Member

Boos, Florence

Fifth Committee Member

Hill, Lena


This dissertation examines the popular theatre of the late-nineteenth century and focuses on the most commercially successful and popular playwrights of the era: Henry Arthur Jones, Arthur Wing Pinero, and Oscar Wilde. Looking at the major popular playwrights reveals that the commercial stage had different concerns than the avant-garde theatre of Ibsen and Shaw. Foremost among these concerns was religion, and starting with Jones’s 1884 play Saints and Sinners, a massive change swept through the commercial stage as religious prejudice and official censorship fell by the wayside. In its place, religion started to become a topic that was once again seen as acceptable, and the fin de siècle stage was awash with syncretic religious views. This syncretism was aided by the publication of scripts and the religious pluralism of the day. Though publication aided the literary and religious quality of the texts, they were crafted as staged works, complete with the shared, collective experiences and emotions of the audience, a collective affect that mimics the collective emotional experience of a congregation in a church, and the stage thus became one of the largest venues for ecumenical religion during the late-Victorian era. The alacrity with which this happened challenges not only the common conception of the secularization of the late-Victorian stage, but also of the larger culture


Religion, Secular, Theater, Victorian, Wilde


v, 299 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 279-299).


Copyright © 2018 Marija Reiff

Available for download on Friday, July 03, 2020