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Title: Gender and delay in early modern theatre : patience, prodigality and revenge
Author: Lewis, Sarah
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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In this thesis, I analyse a series of plays from the early modern professional stage to argue that temporality is socially constructed in the early modern period and that time, like gender, class and race, is a category through which early modern subjectivity is negotiated. I suggest that the ’early modern temporal consciousness’ was dominated by a binary of action and delay and I explore the ways in which the axis of time, as it is defined by that binary, intersects the axis of gender on the early modern stage. Through my analysis of delay, and of action as its implicit opposite, in late Elizabethan and early Jacobean drama, I argue that a variety of gendered social identities are constructed temporally. -- I begin with the best known drama of delay, Hamlet. This play sets the terms for my exploration of the gendered experience of time through its engagement with three concepts which are, I suggest, structured by the opposition of action and delay which shapes temporality in early modern society: patience, prodigality and revenge. I proceed with chapters focused on these three thematic foci in turn, analysing a range of domestic comedies and revenge tragedies performed between 1585 and 1622. I argue that these dramatic genres mark fundamental differences in the experience of temporality by men and women and that those differences drive the plots and thematic concerns of the theatre at that time. I conclude by looking at how theatrical repertories informed the autobiographical writings of Lady Anne Clifford, a ’postponed heiress’ who structured her gender and her works through the dramatic models of patience, prodigality and revenge. Thus this thesis offers a double argument: it marks gender as a shaping factor in the experience of time and it helps define early modern gender categories by way of temporality.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available