03 Sep Florida State University
Florida State University
Feminist critics of Renaissance drama and culture have argued that the marginality of ladies is sometimes potentially disruptive. Early contemporary lady had the power, through disobedience, to subvert the cultural expectations placed upon her, whilst reminding the patriarchy of her absolute necessity. This assertion appears a much more fitting description of the female characters and diarists who Hyperlinks Of London Charms enacted and constructed early contemporary maternity, and who is eloquently and insightfully discussed in this important volume of essays.
Moncrief and Mc Pherson’s collection fills a crucial gap in the study of women’s history. But this collection would appeal not only to readers of women’s history and Renaissance cultural studies, but also to those who are interested in Shakespearean criticism and the politics of social performativity. The importance of this collection is immediately signalled when the editors set out their argument in the introductory essay: ‘that maternity each public and private, physically embodied and enacted should be regarded as per formative and that the maternal body, as a result, functions as a potent space for cultural conflict, a site of imagination and contests’. Further to this, the volume achieves its aims of demonstrating the way in which male playwrights and authors of midwifery and youngster-rearing texts self-consciously present the performativity of the reproductive physique. The essays in this volume draw focus to the assortment of texts that contributed to early modern day conceptions of maternity, which, as the editors point out, is not strictly bound to childbirth and pregnancy, but also to Links Of London Bracelets a wide range of connected places, such as ‘spirituality, medicine and well being, politics, the supernatural, as properly as the several and complex facets of gender’. Therefore this volume does well to identify maternity not just as a biological reality, but, a lot more potently, as an ideological and epistemological phenomenon worthy of deeper, a lot more weighted consideration.
The essays are usefully grouped into four sections: ‘The Efficiency of Pregnancy’, ‘The Overall performance of Maternal Authority’, ‘The Performance of Maternal Suffering’ and ‘The Efficiency of Maternal Erasure’. The essays in the 1st section, ‘The Functionality of Pregnancy’ draw crucial parallels between the dramatic texts that show the pregnant physique and those that try to regulate or manage it. They draw our focus to the intertextuality of early modern day discursive representations of pregnant bodies and their dramatic counterparts. Equally, they focus our interest towards the political structures that helped to define and shape perceptions of maternity and femininity much more typically. In his essay on The Duchess of Malfi, Sid Ray argues that the heroic stature of the Duchess is largely connected to her repeated pregnancies, which manifest as visually potent assertions of her femininity.