Flaunting: Style and the Subversive Male Body in Renaissance England

By Jaster, Margaret Rose | Medieval & Renaissance Drama in England, January 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

Flaunting: Style and the Subversive Male Body in Renaissance England


Jaster, Margaret Rose, Medieval & Renaissance Drama in England


Flaunting: Style and the Subversive Male Body in Renaissance England, by Amanda Bailey. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007. Pp. 190. Cloth $65.00

For Amanda Bailey, the devil is in the definitions. In Flaunting, Bailey offers some intriguing insights into English Renaissance society by tweaking definitions for terms frequently encountered in Renaissance studies. Her central thesis rests on such a tweaking. After echoing the long-established New Historicist tenet that "power . . . resides in the ability to transform the materials of dominant culture into the symbols of subversion . . . ," Bailey attempts a new twist by asserting that "certain young men of the English Renaissance ... did not assume the elite signs of privilege, but rather appropriated them for their own ends" (4) (italics mine) - a rather fine distinction. Bailey then returns to a comfortable New Historicist insistence that the theater not only produced an awareness that clothes make the man, but also that the theater "encouraged sartorial irreverence among those with little discretionary income and no social authority, and in doing so created the conditions for a subculture of style" (5). The remainder of her introductory chapter addresses other relevant definitions ("fashion," "art," "publish," and "flaunt," among others) as she differentiates her study from earlier scholarly works, and argues for a defiant aesthetics, practiced by the above-mentioned youthful subculture.

In her second chapter, Bailey demonstrates the "monstrous manners" (another useful definition for her discussion) of her subversive young men by linking the clothing laws to early modern theatrical practices. In keeping with a plethora of scholars of the English Renaissance, Bailey extends her definition of "clothing laws" to include a variety of texts that sought to influence sartorial behavior. Including sermons, anti -theatrical tracts, and satires, these texts echo the concerns of the official clothing laws (proclamations and statutes) with the behavior of the "meaner sort" which she defines as "an amorphous group of male apprentices, servants and students" (25). When Bailey cites her primary sources, she is on solid ground: it is gratifying (and not surprising) to learn that Philip Stubbes ranted against young men who rioted and flaunted daily. While Bailey then admits that the "specific behaviors associated with flaunting remain unclear," she assumes that the definition in early modern culture includes the notion that "practitioners openly wrested luxurious items of apparel from their proper place." Further, she suggests that these flaunters may have "modified the associations of items traditionally used in certain ways by a particular social group, producing unorthodox combinations" and "exaggerated a particular aspect of a given item" - assumptions not necessarily borne out by the evidence in the primary texts (46). In this chapter, Bailey also identifies the theater as a particularly vital site for the young men's subversive behavior.

Bailey concludes her theoretical chapters by proposing that the young men that she has identified were seen as an "especially subversive minority," a claim that she substantiates by close readings of three plays in the next three chapters. According to Bailey, past interpretations of these plays have been negatively affected because they ignore the presence and particularized behavior of this subversive minority in the plays. To prove this point, Bailey returns to her incisive use of definitions by reminding us that shrewishness was, in this period, a non-gendered form of class conflict: a shrew was a social outcast or newcomer of either gender, and, more importantly for Bailey, someone who challenged authority (76). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Flaunting: Style and the Subversive Male Body in Renaissance England
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.