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Transgressive Women In Renaissance Drama

ENGL 231.301
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 3: Early Literature to 1660 of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

EN-US">The theater of the English Renaissance was considered dangerous and subversive by many commentators on the grounds that it involved cross-dressing and allowed a mingling of men and women, rich and poor among its audience. But this drama was also remarkable in that it featured disorderly women who crossed accepted social and sexual boundaries—perhaps more consistently than drama at any other time or place. Did such depictions encourage real-life women to challenge patriarchy, or did the plays function to silence them by showing how such women were punished, often violently?

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EN-US">In this course we will read the most remarkable of these plays that depict women who love other women, as well as men of different classes and races, women who indulge in incest, or who refuse to have any sexual relationship at all, women who challenge religious, secular and familial authority, and who dress as men or are ultra feminine as they offer their challenge to the society around them. Plays will include John Lyly, Gallathea, Middleton and Dekker’s The Roaring Girl, Middleton’s The Changeling,  Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi and The White Devil, Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and John Ford’s Tis Pity She’s a Whore.