Book Project

Disruptive Compliance and Silent Women in Stuart Drama

This book argues that Stuart women subversively appropriated conduct exhortations of silence to license their own literary and dramatic activities.  Early modern conduct literature represented the household as a “silent and private” site for reading, writing, and performance that could teach women ideal behaviors. Yet as women wrote, published, and participated in closet drama and masque, they actively engaged with public literary communities. As a result of this disruptive compliance, women’s texts traveled beyond the home, and London playwrights including Shakespeare and Ford began borrowing themes and representing women’s dramatic efforts in commercial plays. Women were thus able to significantly shape Stuart drama, undermining the very structures that sought to deny their public expression.

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