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The Dynamics of Inheritance on the Shakespearean Stage


  • Date Published: May 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107099777

£ 72.99

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About the Authors
  • Early modern England's system of patrilineal inheritance, in which the eldest son inherited his father's estate and title, was one of the most significant forces affecting social order in the period. Demonstrating that early modern theatre played a unique and vital role in shaping how inheritance was understood, Michelle M. Dowd explores some of the common contingencies that troubled this system: marriage and remarriage, misbehaving male heirs, and families with only daughters. Shakespearean drama helped question and reimagine inheritance practices, making room for new formulations of gendered authority, family structure, and wealth transfer. Through close readings of canonical and non-canonical plays by Shakespeare, Webster, Jonson, and others, Dowd pays particular attention to the significance of space in early modern inheritance and the historical relationship between dramatic form and the patrilineal economy. Her book will interest researchers and students of early modern drama, Shakespeare, gender studies, and socio-economic history.

    • The first full-length study of how Renaissance theatre shaped attitudes to primogeniture, one of England's most significant and longstanding socio-economic systems
    • Explores new ground by examining non-royal lineage
    • Discusses drama and inheritance in terms of gender, authority and family relationships, appealing to historians and gender readers
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… pays particularly close attention to spatial discourse as a theatrical mode of expressing the historical pressures and exigencies shaping sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English patriarchal and patrilineal economies. … Dowd's study also reminds us that spatial discourse offers an underappreciated archive for rethinking the kinds of cultural work accomplished by the dynamics of early modern drama.' Mark Albert Johnston, Renaissance and Reformation

    'The Dynamics of Inheritance on the Shakespearean Stage generates new kinds of questions while employing a sound and sophisticated form of both/and reasoning that Dowd proves the topic demands. … Dowd's feminist methodology is a welcome intervention into the arguably patrilineal terrain of Jonson studies. Dowd's research and the arguments she advances about the drama unlock the once open-and-shut case of primogeniture.' Ann C. Christensen, Modern Philology

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107099777
    • length: 304 pages
    • dimensions: 231 x 152 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.64kg
    • contains: 11 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: staging inheritance in early modern England
    1. Crooked titles and inconstant estates
    2. Revision and inaccessibility in The Duchess of Malfi
    3. Travel, displacement, and the prodigal son
    4. Dislocation and the loss of issue in Pericles
    5. Claustrophobia and urban affiliation in Volpone and Epicene

  • Author

    Michelle M. Dowd, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
    Michelle M. Dowd is Associate Professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Her previous publications include Women's Work in Early Modern English Literature and Culture (2009), Early Modern Women on the Fall: An Anthology (co-edited with Thomas Festa, 2012), Working Subjects in Early Modern English Drama (co-edited with Natasha Korda, 2011), and Genre and Women's Life Writing in Early Modern England (co-edited with Julie A. Eckerle, 2007). She has also published on early modern drama and women's writing in journals including Modern Philology, English Literary Renaissance, Renaissance Drama, and Shakespeare Studies.

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