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The Soul of PleasureSentiment and Sensation in Nineteenth-Century American Mass Entertainment$
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David Monod

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501702389

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501702389.001.0001

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The Democratization of Entertainment

The Democratization of Entertainment

The Concert Saloons

(p.108) Chapter 4 The Democratization of Entertainment
The Soul of Pleasure

David Monod

Cornell University Press

This chapter claims that the entertainment revolution of the 1840s occurred because new types of shows were mounted in new types of playhouses for a new type of spectator. Melodrama and vaudeville became less fashionable and more clearly targeted to a certain kind of customer. Vaudeville, or variety, in particular, had been a saloon entertainment that spectators enjoyed while talking, walking about, eating, and drinking, and it suffered as temperance feeling pushed respectable people—especially genteel women—away from theatres where liquor was served. Paradoxically, the theatrical half-life variety thrived, becoming the first of the new popular entertainments to appeal to spectators (albeit male ones) in all regions and from all classes. In the 1870s and 1880s, it emerged from the saloon to become the engine of mass entertainment.

Keywords:   melodrama, vaudeville, variety, saloon entertainment, popular entertainments, mass entertainment

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