Roman Shakespeare: Warriors, Wounds, and Women

Roman Shakespeare: Warriors, Wounds, and Women

Roman Shakespeare: Warriors, Wounds, and Women

Roman Shakespeare: Warriors, Wounds, and Women

Synopsis

In the first full-length study of Shakespeare's Roman plays, Coppeacute;lia Kahn brings to these texts a startling, critical perspective which interrogates the gender ideologies lurking behind 'Roman virtue'. Plays featured include: * Titus Andronicus * Julius Caesar * Antony and Cleopatra * Coriolanus * Cymbeline Setting the Roman works in the dual context of the popular theatre and Renaissance humanism, the author identifies new sources which she analyzes from a historicized feminist perspective. Roman Shakespeare is written in an accessible style and will appeal to scholars and students of Shakespeare and those interested in feminist theory, as well as classicists.

Excerpt

As I write this towards the end of 1996, feminist criticism of Shakespeare has just come of age. While we will no doubt continue to rediscover and celebrate notable pre-feminist and proto-feminist precursors, it is usually acknowledged that the genre as we know it began ‘officially’ just 21 years ago with Juliet Dusinberre’s Shakespeare and the Nature of Women (London: Macmillan, 1975), a book taken as the obvious starting-point by Philip C. Kolin in his Shakespeare and Feminist Criticism: An Annotated Bibliography and Commentary (New York and London: Garland, 1991) which lists 439 items from 1975 to its cut-off date in 1988. A glance at any publisher’s catalogue will reveal that the rate of publication has certainly not slowed down during the eight years since then; it is clear in fact that feminist criticism continues to be one of the most lively, productive and influential of the current approaches to Shakespeare.

Shakespeare and the Nature of Women has just been reissued (London: Macmillan, 1996) with a substantial new Preface by Dusinberre entitled ‘Beyond the Battle?’. The interrogative mode seems appropriate both in relation to the state of feminist scholarship itself—is the battle lost or won?—and to the extent to which the whole enterprise has been about asking questions: asking different questions about the Shakespearean texts themselves and using those texts to interrogate ‘women’s place in culture, history, religion, society, the family’. It seems to me that these questions are now inescapably on the agenda of academic enquiry, and that they have moved from the margin to the centre. The growth and variety of feminist approaches in Shakespeare studies has been complemented and supported by work in feminist theory, women’s history, the study of women’s relationship to language and the study of women’s writing. A summary of the achievements of feminist criticism of Shakespeare in its first 21 years would for me include the following:

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