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Title: The role of women in the canonisation of Shakespeare : from Elizabethan theatre to the Shakespeare Jubilee
Author: Kitamura, Sae
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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The aim of this thesis is to clarify the role that female interpreters in Britain played at an early stage in the canonisation of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare, one of the popular playwrights in English Renaissance theatre, became increasingly famous during the first half of the eighteenth century, and the Shakespeare Jubilee in 1769 marked the climax of the popularisation of his works. It is said that since then, he has maintained his position as the ‘national poet’ of England (or Britain). Although women had supported Shakespeare even before his works had established their canonical status, the extent to which female interpreters contributed to the canonisation of Shakespeare, how they participated in the process, and why they played the roles that they did have not yet been sufficiently visible. In this thesis, I illustrate women’s engagement in the process of the popularisation of Shakespeare by examining the early reception of his works, and to document how individual women’s pleasure of reading and playgoing relates to their intellectual activities. I adopt three approaches to provide answers to my research questions in this thesis: reading critical and fictional works by women; analysing the descriptions of female readers and playgoers by male writers; and conducting a large-scale survey of the ownership history of pre-mid-eighteenth-century printed books of Shakespeare’s plays. This thesis is divided into four chapters. In the first chapter, I analyse women’s engagement with theatre in Renaissance England, and consider Shakespeare’s popularity amongst them based on records about female audiences. The second chapter discusses female readers and writers in Renaissance England and their responses to Shakespeare’s works. Chapter 3 focuses on Restoration Shakespeare and female interpreters from 1642 to 1714. The fourth chapter discusses women’s playgoing, play-reading, writings, and their participation from the early eighteenth century to the Shakespeare Jubilee in 1769.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available