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‘Put up de Cloaks!’: The Embodied Experience of Female Spectatorship in Seventeenth-Century Theatre

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‘Put up de Cloaks!’: The Embodied Experience of Female Spectatorship in Seventeenth-Century Theatre

Colon, Brianne (2011) ‘Put up de Cloaks!’: The Embodied Experience of Female Spectatorship in Seventeenth-Century Theatre. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This thesis delves into the social and material experience of female spectatorship in seventeenth-century theatre. Throughout the seventeenth-century, a woman compromised her sexuality each time she attended a performance through her alignment with the prostitutes operating in the audience and the bawdy representations of herself onstage. By positioning herself alongside other female spectators in the audience and making them privy to her physical and emotional needs, she was able to minimize the threat the theatre posed to her sexual modesty and obtain a degree of privacy within the multiple and intersecting lines of sight in the playhouse. With the help of masks, fabric, disguises and female-female discourse, women established private codes of communication within the theatre and were able to shape themselves accordingly before the theatrical gaze. As the century progressed and female sexuality became increasingly mediated through the spectacle of the actress onstage, women grew all the more dependent on each other’s company within the theatre and learned to exploit this vulnerability to their own ends. Using meta-theatrical episodes from Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, James Shirley, Margaret Cavendish, William D’Avenant, Thomas Shadwell and John Dennis, this thesis charts the trajectory of female sociability in the theatre, focusing on Renaissance, Caroline and Restoration drama. It shows that the contemporary theatre may position women alongside one another in the restroom queue but women’s alliances with each other’s bodies at the playhouse have deep roots in seventeenth-century theatre.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > English
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Colon, Brianne
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:English
Date:January 2011
Thesis Supervisor(s):Bobker, Danielle
ID Code:7069
Deposited By:BRIANNE COLON
Deposited On:09 Jun 2011 11:04
Last Modified:09 Jun 2011 11:04
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