"And all is semblative a woman's part": Phenomenology and Gender in Early Modern English Drama
This project aims to create a way of looking at texts that is attune to issues of phenomenology and gender. In a post-Butler world, most scholars accept that gender is an everyday performance, often done without conscious thought in response to society's expectations. Western society's ideas about gender and sexuality seem so codified, however there have always been spaces that allowed for the questioning of heteronormativity and this adherence to strict gender performances. The Early Modern English stage represents one of these liminal spaces. The plays written for the space of the Early Modern stage deal with gender and performance in unusual and complex ways, making them the perfect texts for my investigation. My work looks at how we can talk about the experience of gender and understand how gender can influence experience. I've turned to the philosophy of phenomenology to help me articulate and focus my ideas. I look at several different plays in this project including Ben Jonson's Epicene, Margaret Cavendish's The Convent of Pleasure, and William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and As You Like It.