"Subject to all passions" : representing women's emotions in early modern English drama

Cardinal Scholar

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor Beach, Adam R.
dc.contributor.author Pena, Nichole E.
dc.date.accessioned 2016-12-19T21:04:35Z
dc.date.available 2016-12-19T21:04:35Z
dc.date.issued 2016-12-17
dc.identifier.uri http://cardinalscholar.bsu.edu/handle/123456789/200558
dc.description Access to thesis permanently restricted to Ball State community only. en_US
dc.description.abstract This dissertation examines contradictions in discourses regarding women and expected forms of female emotional expression in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It (1599) and Anthony and Cleopatra (1606), Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam (1613), and George Chapman’s The Widow’s Tears (1605). I draw on emotions history as a part of a cultural study of early modern drama; this new approach benefits literary criticism by creating a dialog between historical understandings of women's emotional expressions and current critical conversations about early modern gender constructs and hierarchies. This project considers four key questions: 1) How do essentialized views of emotional expression help to define and regulate what it means to be a man or woman within a society that is struggling with single-sex and two-sex models? 2) What stereotypes about women emerge from gendered views of emotional expression? 3) How does drama reinforce or redefine “feeling rules” for women? 4) What are the consequences for characters who conform to or defy gender expectations, and how does an awareness of emotional expectations allow them to navigate gender relationships and/or disrupt gender hierarchies? In answering these questions, I offer three contributions. At the most basic level, I document complex understandings of early modern emotional expressions and their relationship with the material body. I bring together conversations about “leaky” female bodies and anxieties about feigning femininity to highlight the problems with dominant feeling rules that attempt to contain women. Finally, I demonstrate a crucial need for individuals to navigate cultural expectations of emotional expression within their respective emotional communities. These plays, with their disruption of gender hierarchies and their relationship to real women’s experiences, reveal that emotional expression is a site of struggle; characters that fail to navigate gendered expectations of emotion are punished, while characters that acknowledge the demands of emotional communities often find ways to work within the system. Such work creates a more encompassing understanding of how emotions were represented on the stage, in print, and in everyday life. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Department of English
dc.description.tableofcontents Introduction : reading emotion in literature -- Their weeping is in truth but laughing under a mask : representing women's emotional expressions in The widow's tears and As you like it -- What means these tears : performing emotion work and navigating emotional communities in The tragedy of Mariam -- This dotage o'reflows the measure : upholding feeling rules and protecting emotional communities in Anthony and Cleopatra -- Let her cry : conclusion and future directions.
dc.subject.lcsh Emotions in literature.
dc.subject.lcsh Women in literature.
dc.subject.lcsh English drama -- 17th century -- History and criticism.
dc.title "Subject to all passions" : representing women's emotions in early modern English drama en_US
dc.description.degree Thesis (Ph. D.) en_US
dc.identifier.cardcat-url http://liblink.bsu.edu/uhtbin/catkey/1837582

Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • Doctoral Dissertations [3210]
    Doctoral dissertations submitted to the Graduate School by Ball State University doctoral candidates in partial fulfillment of degree requirements.

Show simple item record

Search Cardinal Scholar


My Account