Humoral Wombs on the Shakespearean Stage

Humoral Wombs on the Shakespearean Stage

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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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 202 pages
  • 148 x 210 x 14.22mm | 454g
  • Cham, Switzerland
  • English
  • 1st ed. 2019
  • 5 Illustrations, black and white; XI, 202 p. 5 illus.
  • 3030052001
  • 9783030052003
  • 3,815,025

Table of contents

1. Introduction: the early modern womb.- 2. The green womb.- 3. The thick womb.- 4. The fertile womb.- 5. The monstrous womb.- 6. The tomb womb.- 7. The male womb.- 8. Coda: The exonerated womb.
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About Amy Kenny

Amy Kenny is Visiting Assistant Professor at University of California, Riverside, USA. She holds a PhD in Early Modern Literature and Culture from the University of Sussex and has worked as Research Coordinator at Shakespeare's Globe, where she was chief dramaturg for 15 productions and conducted over 80 interviews with actors and directors as part of an archival resource for future scholarship. She has published on dramaturgy, performance of laughter, the senses, and disease in Shakespeare.
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