Humoral Wombs on the Shakespearean Stage

  • Amy Kenny

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Amy Kenny
    Pages 27-56
  3. Amy Kenny
    Pages 57-82
  4. Amy Kenny
    Pages 83-110
  5. Amy Kenny
    Pages 111-138
  6. Amy Kenny
    Pages 139-165
  7. Amy Kenny
    Pages 167-192
  8. Amy Kenny
    Pages 193-197
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 199-202

About this book


This book explores how the humoral womb was evoked, enacted, and embodied on the Shakespearean stage by considering the intersection of performance studies and humoral theory.  Galenic naturalism applied the four humors—yellow bile, black bile, phlegm, and blood—to delineate women as porous, polluting, and susceptible to their environment.  This book draws on early modern medical texts to provocatively demonstrate how Shakespeare’s canon offers a unique agency to female characters via humoral discourse of the womb.  Chapters discuss early modern medicine’s attempt to theorize and interpret the womb, specifically its role in disease, excretion, and conception, alongside passages of Shakespeare’s plays to offer a fresh reading of (geo)humoral subjectivity.  The book shows how Shakespeare subversively challenges contemporary notions of female fluidity by accentuating the significance of the womb as a source of self-defiance and autonomy for female characters across his canon.  


Medicine Science Body Pregnancy Macbeth Juliet Hippocrates Anatomy

Authors and affiliations

  • Amy Kenny
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaRiverside, CAUSA

Bibliographic information