Elizabeth I: The Competition for Representation

Paperback | September 1, 1996

bySusan Frye

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Elizabeth I is perhaps the most visible woman in early modern Europe, yet little attention has been paid to what she said about the difficulties of constructing her power in a patriarchal society. This revisionist study examines her struggle for authority through the representation of herfemale body. Based on a variety of extant historical and literary materials, Frye's interpretation focuses on three representational crises spaced fifteen years apart: the London coronation of 1559, the Kenilworth entertainments of 1575, and the publication of The Faerie Queene in 1590. In wayswhich varied with social class and historical circumstance, the London merchants, the members of the Protestant faction, courtly artists, and artful courtiers all sought to stabilize their own gendered identities by constructing the queen within the "natural" definitions of the feminine as passiveand weak. Elizabeth fought back, acting as a discursive agent by crossing, and thus disrupting, these definitions. She and those closely identified with her interests evolved a number of strategies through which to express her political control in terms of the ownership of her body, including herelaborate iconography and a mythic biography upon which most accounts of Elizabeth's life have been based. The more authoritative her image became, the more vigorously it was contested in a process which this study examines and consciously perpetuates.

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From Our Editors

The Competition for Representation emphasizes Elizabeth's self-creation and the process of contestation that this construction necessitated. It differs significantly from the wealth of material available on Elizabeth because instead of assuming either that Elizabeth was in full control of how she was represented or that she was control...

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Elizabeth I is perhaps the most visible woman in early modern Europe, yet little attention has been paid to what she said about the difficulties of constructing her power in a patriarchal society. This revisionist study examines her struggle for authority through the representation of herfemale body. Based on a variety of extant histor...

Susan Frye is at University of Wyoming.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 9.25 × 6.06 × 0.63 inPublished:September 1, 1996Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195113837

ISBN - 13:9780195113839

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From Our Editors

The Competition for Representation emphasizes Elizabeth's self-creation and the process of contestation that this construction necessitated. It differs significantly from the wealth of material available on Elizabeth because instead of assuming either that Elizabeth was in full control of how she was represented or that she was controlled by the special-interest group surrounding her, my focus is the very issue of her agency. That is, I concentrate on Elizabeth's actions and words (as nearly as they can be determined) in order to ascertain the conscious and unconscious strategies through which she worked to created an identity beyond accepted gender definitions.

Editorial Reviews

"The book's strength...is in its complexity and subtlety, its deft handling of sophisticated historical analysis, its patient and often brilliant teasing-out of the multiple voices of some very difficult texts...[an] excellent study."--Shakespeare Quarterly