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Look Inside Shakespeare's Women

Shakespeare's Women
Performance and Conception

  • Date Published: July 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107405929

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About the Authors
  • In this book, David Mann examines the influence of the Elizabethan cross-dressed tradition on the performance and conception of Shakespeare's female roles through an analysis of all 205 extant plays written for the adult theatre. The study provides both an historical context, showing how performance practice developed in the era before Shakespeare, and a comparative one, in revealing how dramatists in general treated their female characters and the influence their characterisation had upon Shakespeare's writing. The book challenges many views of the sexual ethos of Elizabethan theatre, offering instead a picture of Shakespeare which pays less attention to his supposed gender politics and more to his ability to exploit the cross-dressed convention as a dramatic medium. By challenging the gay and polemical feminist accounts that currently dominate the treatment of Elizabethan cross-dressing, the book restores its importance as a mainstream performance topic for academics and students.

    • Comprehensive historical overview of the cross-dressed performance tradition, placing the plays of Shakespeare into a more complex perspective
    • Includes an appendix containing a statistical analysis of female roles in all 205 extant plays in the adult repertoire
    • Unique selection of illustrations provide insights into the use of costume and prosthetics in the creation of female roles
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'David Mann's book is an interesting and inspiring contribution to character criticism, an area of Shakespeare studies that is badly in need of … reinvigoration … Paying close attention to the full range of extant early modern drama, not just Shakespeare as his title suggests, Mann opens up the investigation of women characters to a degree unmatched since the feminist heyday of the 1980s and 1990s. … this is a valuable book …' New Theatre Quarterly

    'The study is strongest where it discusses dramatic history and performative technique. … the broad treatment offers interesting challenges and useful materials towards our thinking about the cross-dressed boy actor on the early modern stage.' Theatre Research International

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107405929
    • length: 304 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 150 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.41kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preliminary: the persistence of all-male theatre
    Introduction: the significance of the performer
    1. Age and status
    2. Erotic ambience
    3. Stage costume and performer ethos
    4. Male didacticism and female stereotyping
    5. Dramatic empathy and moral ambiguity
    6. Sexual violence
    7. Positive representations of young women
    Appendix: female characters in the adult repertory 1500–1614.

  • Author

    David Mann

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