Impersonations: The Performance of Gender in Shakespeare's England
Why was England the only country in Europe to maintain an all-male public theatre in the Renaissance? This study uses this question as the starting point of a fresh exploration of the representation of gender in Elizabethan drama and society.
Paperback, 196 pages
Published April 19th 1996 by Cambridge University Press
(first published March 29th 1996)
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A very fascinating book with detailed context regarding the Shakespearean stage and the gender roles that accompanied it. This book went beyond the generalizations found in most Shakespearean criticism about women and performance; instead, it acknowledged the troubling roles women and men (including boys) played during the Elizabethan period. While the author's lengthy discussions on transvestites and homoeroticism may have been a little stretched, he certainly took the time to flesh out all fac...more
Lots of fascinating details about how gender was perceived in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Orgel does away with a lot of our preconceived ideas about gender roles during the Renaissance, but in the end I'm not sure he really answers his question of why, exactly, female roles were acted by boys during this time period. Still, an enjoyable read and very illuminating
a phenomenal cultural study of gender and sexuality in renaissance england. orgel begins by questioning the anomaly of england's "transvestite theater," but ends by asking some much larger questions about patriarchy, power, and performance. don't miss the outstanding preface.