Actors or Actresses-It Makes All the Difference

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" practice the intertextual study of literature may best be organized along generic lines that keep our attention on conventional elements and that cut across national, temporal, and linguistic boundaries."

-From Donald Keesey's Contexts for Criticism, Chapter 5 Introduction "Intertextual Criticism: Literature as Context," page 271


When I read this section of Keesey's introduction to chapter five, I was immediately reminded of the presentation on Spanish Golden Age drama that Dr. García-Quismondo gave last class.  She mentioned, perhaps not exactly in these terms, that this era of drams is characterized by the convention of the female dressed in tight-fitting male clothing and how this was often does to allow the male playgoers a glimpse of a woman’s body.  One could argue that this convention also existed as a way for the immoral female to be put back into her proper and moral role at the end of the ply; however, when done in England, only the second explanation of the convention can be held true.  In Spain, women were allowed to act on stage; however, as Dr. García-Quismondo pointed out, in England, women were not allowed on stage.  The tight clothes on the female characters in England would only be flaunting the bodies of young men, thus giving the convention an entirely different meaning and purpose.

I do, however, understand that Intertextualists rely only on the text, but then what is to be done with this sort of convention written into plays of various origins, especially when one understands the dramatic purpose?  Once again, it seems as though one cannot separate the various schools of criticism.  Some type of historical information must be considered, especially when examining the works of two different countries.


Take a look at what others think about Keesey's introduction to chapter five.


Sue said:

I think you make some really interesting points, I love when other people see things you don't see because you can learn so much from others and their point of views. Anyways, as you can probably tell I didn't even think about this. It makes me wonder about the audience reactions for the female actresses who revealed their figures verses the male acters playing women who revealed their figures.

Erica Gearhart said:

I'm glad I could help you think more about the text, Sue. I'm not sure, but I think that many of the female characters in Shakespeare's plays, especially the older ones, were supposed to be comic characters. Also, in some of the comedies, such as Midsummer Night's Dream, the female characters (and the male ones too, for that matter) are supposed to be foolish. I think that the love stories for Spanish play goers were probably more realistic than they were for the English play goers. It would be interesting to research this more, though.

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