The Rhetorical Feminine takes a fresh look at theatre - including the important new genre of opera - in early modern Germany. Central to this study is the relationship of the stage with ideas of order or social control. Early German school drama was designed to teach rhetoric to boys: a detailwhich has up to now been accepted by scholars without further questioning. This investigation focuses on how that rhetoric was used, with particular reference to ideas of the feminine and of the Islamic world. Both are constructed as the potentially threatening others of early modern patriarchalChristendom. In containing the threat, the stage becomes the controllable version of the early modern theatrum mundi. In opera, the dynamic of the text is supported by music. The author has found it necessary to cross the boundary of traditional literary scholarship by looking not only at the libretti, but also at the rhetoric of the score. The suggestion here is not that the construction of alterity is an isolated phenomenon in early modern Germany; men have always used their relative monopoly of the arts for self-definition. While feminist scholarship has tended to concentrate on the relevance of this for women, it has alsopertained to non-Christians or `the Orient', which is often portrayed as analogous with the feminine.