The foundation of twentieth-century feminist Shakespeare criticism—and a book that still repays careful reading—is Juliet Dusinberre's Shakespeare and the Nature of Women, originally published in 1975 (third edition, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003). The optimistic views of Dusinberre and other contemporary feminists concerning women's place in the drama and society of Shakespeare and his contemporaries were vigorously challenged by Lisa Jardine in Still Harping on Daughters: Women and Drama in the Age of Shakespeare (Brighton: Harvester, 1983). For a useful overview of the early progress of twentieth-century feminist Shakespeare criticism, see the Introduction and Selective Bibliography in The Woman's Part: Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare, edited by Carolyn Ruth Swift Lenz, Gayle Greene, and Carol Thomas Neely (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1980); and Philip C. Kolin's Shakespeare and Feminist Criticism: An Annotated Bibliography and Commentary (New York and London: Garland, 1991), which covers the years from 1977 to 1988. The current state of feminist Shakespeare criticism is well represented in Dympna Callaghan's richly varied anthology, A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000). For a historical survey of earlier women's responses to Shakespeare, see Women Reading Shakespeare 1660—igoo: An Anthology of Criticism, edited by Ann Thompson and Sasha Roberts (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997).
One of the earliest and most influential readings of Elizabethan culture and of Shakespeare's plays that stresses the anxieties of men confronted by female authority and power is Louis Adrian Montrose's article A Midsummer Night's Dream and the Shaping Fantasies of Elizabethan Culture: Gender, Power, Form', in Margaret W. Ferguson, Maureen Quilligan, and Nancy J. Vickers (eds.), Rewriting the Renaissance: The Discourses of Sexual Difference in Early Modern Europe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), pp. 179-86. Later studies include Mark Breitenberg's book, Anxious Masculinity in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996) and Steven Mullaney's article, 'Mourning and Misogyny: Hamlet, The Revenger's Tragedy, and the Final Progress of Elizabeth I, 1600-1607', Shakespeare Quarterly, 45 (1994), pp· 139-62
Impressive documentation of women's agency during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries can be found in Margaret Ezell, The Patriarch's
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Publication information: Book title: Shakespeare and Women. Contributors: Phyllis Rackin - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford, England. Publication year: 2005. Page number: 138.
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