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The Performance of Gender in Shakespeare's England


  • Date Published: February 1996
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521568425

£ 32.99

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About the Authors
  • Why was England the only country in Europe to maintain an all-male public theatre in the Renaissance? Stephen Orgel uses this question as the starting point of a fresh and stimulating exploration of the representation of gender in Elizabethan drama and society. Why were boys used to play female roles in drama, and how did such cross-dressing impact on the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries? What was the place of women in the Renaissance theatre, either on the stage or in the audience? And what did society make of those women who significantly and successfully violated accepted gender boundaries? At once provocative and witty, lucid and stylish, Impersonations will reshape our understanding of the Renaissance theatre, and make us rethink our own inadequate categories of gender, power and sexuality.

    • Stylish and provocative new book by leading scholar of Renaissance drama
    • New insights into the phenomenon of all-male public theatre in Shakespeare's time
    • Wide-ranging exploration of gender and cross-dressing in Renaissance drama and culture
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'In [this] brilliant short book ... Orgel writes with unfailing clarity and authority, laying bare the steps of his own thinking step by step, encouraging us to entertain objections to his argument, each of which he carefully answers, while never losing sight of the central theme of his book.' New York Review of Books

    'Orgel's strength is in the sharp local perception - the scholarly insistence, for example, that despite the fantasies of critics and directors the text of Edward II does not call for an on-stage poker. Such rigour is a useful corrective to critical orthodoxies which abjure the unfashionably empirical.' New Theatre Quarterly

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 1996
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521568425
    • length: 196 pages
    • dimensions: 216 x 139 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.25kg
    • contains: 19 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. The performance of desire
    3. The eye of the beholder
    4. Call me Ganymede
    5. Masculine apparel
    6. Mankind witches
    7. Visible figures.

  • Author

    Stephen Orgel, Stanford University, California

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