Utopian Lesbian Erotics

  • Denise A. Walen
Part of the Early Modern Cultural Studies book series (EMCSS)


The preceding chapters have examined textual representations of female homoeroticism that imply a resignation toward imaginative constructs of love and desire. The same-sex erotic entanglements constructed in these early modern plays are associative, not concrete, embodiments of female-female desire. That is, playwrights constructed female homoeroticism in a space where no real, or only mistaken and misdirected, affection exists. However, a large body of drama, nearly twenty of the seventy-plus plays in this study, presents less ambiguous and more affirmative constructions of female homo-erotic desire. The varied erotic relationships and affectional dispositions in these plays tend to celebrate bonds between women and express female romantic couplings as idealistic unions—offering a utopian vision of female homoerotic desire. Utopian female homoeroticism is utopian in the sense that playwrights effectively align female characters to other female figures in open and often idealized relationships, even arguing strenuously on occasion in favor of female-female love. In these plays, the desired figure might actually be a man in disguise, but the desiring subject perceives only a female presence and believes she loves another woman.


Female Character Female Friendship Male Friendship Romantic Love Passionate Lover 
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© Denise A. Walen 2005

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  • Denise A. Walen

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