Abstract

A decade ago, the consensus among scholars was that while early modern literary forms carried representations of male homoeroticism, few texts of any kind, including drama, presented female homoeroticism. Literary critics failed to identify a significant cultural discourse surrounding desire between women.1 Within the past ten years, in an attempt to amend the deficiency, scholarship on female homoeroticism in early modern literature has attempted to recover and interpret unknown, neglected, or forgotten texts.2 This book participates in that recovery. By exploring representations of love and desire between female characters in dozens of plays, it argues that the dramatic literature of late-sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century England recognized and constructed richly diverse tropes of female homoerotic desire.

Keywords

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Notes

  1. 2.
    See Valerie Traub, “Recent Studies on Homoeroticism,” ELR 30: 2 (2000): 284–329.Google Scholar
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    Philip Massinger, The Bond-man: An Antient Storie. As it hath been often Acted with good allowance, at the Cock pit in Drury-lane: by the most Excellent Princesse, the Lady Elizabeth her Servants (London, 1624), emphasis mine. The scene, which focuses on Corisca’s incestuous seduction of her stepson Asotus, has further engagement with female homoerotics in a complicated fabrication between Corisca, her maid Zanthia, and Asotus. Zanthia, in the guise of Asotus’s lover’s maid, tells Asotus: “Some times/I lie with my Ladie, as the last night I did,/Shee could not say her prayers, for thinking of you,/Nay, she talked of you in her sleepe, and sigh’d out,/O sweet Asotus, sure thou art so backward,/That I must ravish thee, and in that fervor/She tooke me in her armes, threw me upon her,/Kis’d me, and hug’d me, and then wak’d, and wept,/Because ‘twas but a dreame” (sig. E2). The scene suggests that in segregated societies or in the absence of a particular male companion women turned to other women for sexual fulfillment, whether consciously or not.Google Scholar
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© Denise A. Walen 2005

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  • Denise A. Walen

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