Skip to content Skip to navigation

England

Covering topics relating specifically to England or generally to the region equivalent to the modern United Kingdom. Sometimes lazily and inaccurately used generally for the British Isles, especially when articles don’t specifically identify the nationality of authors.

LHMP entry

Tvordi’s article digs into the importance of female alliances for characters in early modern drama, and how those alliances represent a whole range of relationships including family, friendship, service, marriage resistance, and even desire. [Note: the topic of f/f desire in early modern drama is even more deeply examined by Walen 2005 https://alpennia.com/lhmp/publication/4373] But given the imperatives of the “marriage plot,” these alliances are often broken or left behind in the play’s resolution.

So, Ben Johnson is a massive misogynist, we know that, right? This analysis of gendered roles and alliances in his play The Magnetic Lady, reveals a complex feminine world, despite the hatred and disgust shown for any female character who is not a well-born, passive, virtuous cypher. Women acting together, in a variety of strongly female-coded roles such as midwife, nurse, and widowed householder, try to subvert the patriarchal establishment by taking ownership of their own sexuality and acting to further female goals in marriage.

The topic of this article involves the reputation that the town of Brentford had as a place of adulterous assignation for residents of London, and how the sexual sheanigans of a group of men in the early 17th c play “Westward Ho” were subverted by the women who were the target of their desire via a femal alliance to keep the upper hand. I just barely skimmed this, as it doesn’t have any identifiable relevance to the Project. Included only for completness’ sake.

Mikalachki’s introduction to this article focuses on the difficulty of the topic: inter-personal alliances among female vagrants in the early 17th century.

While other papers in this volume look at relations between upper class waiting women and their aristocratic mistresses (whether in life or fiction), this study concerns itself with in-group relations among ordinary housemaids and women in service. One common life path for young women from rural households (whether of the gentry or lower) was to be placed in service with a large urban household with the expectation that this would not only provide income in the immediate future but would lead to wider opportunities for marriage.

The importance of relations (of all types) between women to society and to women’s lives has tended to be overlooked in favor of the more visible relations between men or between women and men. Due to the nature of society, men could assume that their relationships were stable and long-lasting, but women’s relationships could easily be disrupted by the lesser control women had over their own lives. Or women’s relationships might be temporary alliances across social barriers, established for a specific purpose.

I’m including this summary really just for the sake of completeness and because a colleague happened to be reading the book and was willing to scan me the brief relevant section. The book as a whole (as might be determined from the title) looks at the ways that marriage relationships are represented and symbolized in medieval tomb sculpture. In the chapter on “The Double Tomb” there is a section entitled “Queer Tombs” that specifically looks at commemorations of same-sex pairs.

Most of the articles on burial monuments commemorating same-sex pairs reference this article, so I had high hopes that it might include further leads and details. Alas, not so, at least with respect to women’s memorials. The article focuses primarily on the symbolism of structural and artistic details of a couple of major monuments commemorating pairs of men. (This focus is not entirely surprising given that the article appears in a journal about English church monuments.)

Frangos looks at representations of female same-sex desire in Delarivier Manley’s “New Cabal” in the satire The New Atalantis, specifically focusing on female masculinity (to use Halberstam’s terminology). [Note: I’m afraid this article got off on the wrong foot for me because it stakes a claim that desire for “the representation of men in women” is the primary form that desire takes in this depiction, but leans heavily on one passage that I believe Frangos has drastically misinterpreted.]

Pages

Subscribe to England