Acrobats and manipulators of objects, trained animals, and clowns – have been performing throughout history. In the eighteenth century, the invention of the circus ring provided a focus for the activities, and the modern circus was born.
Once the circus was the most spectacular entertainment many Americans saw. When the supply of cheap labor disappeared and other forms of entertainment became available, the giant circuses shrank, and in the last quarter of the twentieth century new one ring circuses returned.
The Circus and Circus Culture area of the Popular Culture Association has been examining circus history, circus life, the relationship of circus to society, and the impact of circus on the visual and literary arts since 1997. This book is a collection of papers from its annual conferences.
"This fascinating collection showcases the transnational richness and cultural
depth of the circus in an array of historical and contemporary settings.
Strongly recommended for circus enthusiasts and students of popular culture,
history, and theater."
—Janet M.Davis, Associate Professor, Chair of the Department of American Studies, College of Liberal Arts at UT Austin, author of The Circus Age: Culture and Society under the American Big Top
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"This collection of essays edited by Robert Sugarman offers a number of intriguing perspectives on circus history and performances. It is divided in to sections including "Spectacles", "Race, Gender, Difference", "The Dark Side", "Circus in the Arts and Media" and "History". Robert Sugarman deserves praise for editing the eclectic collection and his own vivid contributions on circus economics." - Spectacle - Quarterly Journal of the Circus Arts
Robert Sugarman is the author of Circus for Everyone: Circus Learning Around the World and Performing Shakespeare: A Way to Learn. He is President of the Vermont Tent of the Circus Fans Association, a member of the Circus Historical Society, and a contributing editor of Spectacle, the circus arts quarterly.