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February 06 , 2008

Stuart Women Playwrights, 1613–1713


In the field of seventeenth-century English drama, women participated not only as spectators or readers, but more and more as patronesses, as playwrights, and later on as actresses and even as managers. This study examines English women writers' tragedies and tragicomedies in the seventeenth century, specifically between 1613 and 1713, which represent the publication dates of the first original tragedy (Elizabeth Cary's The Tragedy of Mariam) and the last one (Anne Finch's Aristomenes) written by a Stuart woman playwright. Through this one-hundred year period, major changes in dramatic form and ideology are traced in women's tragedies and tragicomedies.

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The English Renaissance has long been considered a period with a particular focus on imitation; however, much related scholarship has misunderstood or simply marginalized the significance of emulative practices and theories in the period. This work uses the interactions of a range of English Renaissance plays with ancient and Renaissance rhetorics…

In examining the whole of the century from a gender perspective, this project breaks away from conventional approaches to the subject, which tend to establish an unbridgeable gap between the early Stuart period and the Restoration. All in all, this study represents a major overhaul of current theories of the evolution of English drama as well as offering an unprecedented reconstruction of the genealogy of seventeenth-century English women playwrights.

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