Shakespeare's Widows

Hardcover | July 15, 2009

byDorothea Kehler

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Shakespeare’s Widows moves thirty-one characters appearing in twenty plays to center stage. Through nuanced analyses, grounded in the widows’ material circumstances, Kehler uncovers the plays’ negotiations between the opposed poles of residual Catholic precept and Protestant practice—between celibacy and remarriage. Reading from a feminist materialist perspective, this book argues that Shakespeare’s insights into the political and economic pressures the widows face allow them to elude mechanistic ideology. Kehler’s book provides extensive historical background into the various religious and cultural attitudes towards widows in early modern England. 

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Shakespeare’s Widows moves thirty-one characters appearing in twenty plays to center stage. Through nuanced analyses, grounded in the widows’ material circumstances, Kehler uncovers the plays’ negotiations between the opposed poles of residual Catholic precept and Protestant practice—between celibacy and remarriage. Reading from a femi...

Dorothea Kehler is an Emeritus Professor of English Literature, San Diego State University, and a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University. She has edited three anthologies: The Single Woman in Medieval and Early Modern England: Her Life and Representation (with Laurel Amtower), “A Midsummer Night's Dream”: Critical Essays; and...

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Hardcover|Jun 1 1993

$101.01 online$113.50list price(save 11%)
Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 8.31 × 5.69 × 0.71 inPublished:July 15, 2009Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230617034

ISBN - 13:9780230617032

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Table of Contents

Precept and Practice * Exemplary “Seeming Widows” * Problematic Widowed Mothers * War Widows * Working Widows * Lusty Widows/Remarried Widows * Opting Out

Editorial Reviews

"Fills a major void in Shakespeare criticism."--CHOICE“The only comprehensive treatment of Shakespeare's widows, the book challenges many received ideas of past and current scholarship, making an important contribution to feminist criticism of Shakespeare and to the history of the early modern period.”—James Schiffer, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, SUNY, New Paltz“Kehler is ingenious both in clarifying which characters actually are widows and in teasing out the economic (and in many cases political) constraints on them, which she suggests are far more important than the sexual motivations which are often ascribed to them. This is a comprehensive and illuminating study.”—Lisa Hopkins, Professor of English, Sheffield Hallam University“To the melancholy man, the resourceful heroine, and the peremptory father Kehler enables us to add the widow. Standing at the intersection of gender scripting, economics, politics, and emotional personhood, Shakespeare’s thirty-one widows provide Kehler with the subject for meditations that manage to be dramatic as well as historical, imaginatively engaging as well as ideological. In Kehler’s sympathetic and suggestive account Shakespeare’s highly varied portrayals are not without implications for life choices today.”—Bruce R. Smith, Dean’s Professor of English, University of Southern California and author of Shakespeare and Masculinity"In this ambitious survey of some 30 widows in 20 of Shakespeare's plays, Kehler groups widows in aptly titled chapters, e.g., 'Exemplary "Seeming Widows,"' 'Problematic Widowed Mothers,' 'War Widows,' 'Opting Out' (through suicide). By focusing on cultural ambivalence toward widows, the author revisits thematic controversies of gender, class, and religion from a fresh perspective. Kehler contextualizes Shakespeare's widows using social history, fascinating statistics, and references to current pop culture and offers many thoughtful insights (discussions of Volumnia, Tamora, and Gertrude are especially strong)."--Choice