Dr. Angelina Del Balzo received her PhD in English with a Gender Studies concentration from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2019 with certificates in Early Modern Studies and Writing Pedagogy. She has published essays in Eighteenth-Century Fiction and SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 and performance reviews in Eighteenth-Century Studies and Shakespeare Bulletin. Her work has been presented at top field conferences in the US, UK, Canada, Italy, and Australia, including the Modern Language Association and American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies annual conferences. She has taught courses on British literature from the medieval to modern, the eighteenth-century novel and drama, postcolonial literature, Shakespeare, first-year writing, creative writing, and service learning. In addition to her research and teaching, Dr. Del Balzo has worked in theater with audience engagement and as a dramaturg and script reader.
Her current book project, “Adaptation and Empire, 1660-1800: Our English Mode,” argues that eighteenth-century theatrical adaptations set in the Orient destabilize categories of difference, introducing Oriental characters as subjects of sympathy while at the same time defamiliarizing the people and space of London. A paradox at the heart of eighteenth-century theater is that while the term “adaptation” did not have a specific literary or theatrical definition until near the end of the period, in practice adaptations and translations proliferated on the English stage. Anticipating Linda Hutcheon’s postmodernist theory of adaptation, eighteenth-century playwrights and performers conceptualized adaptation as both process and product that created a narrative mode that emphasized the process and labor of performance for spectators in order to create a higher level of engagement with audiences. Bringing together theories of emotion by philosophers such as Adam Smith and David Hume and modern performance studies scholarship, “Adaptation and Empire” demonstrates how competing discourses of sympathy produced performance practices that linked stronger emotional response with theatrical artifice. In adaptations portraying the Orient, theatrical performance provided a reflexive space for eighteenth-century English texts to explore questions of genre, nation, and feeling as British imperial power expanded but before European hegemony was a foregone conclusion.