"If I were a woman" : gendered artifice on the Shakespearean stage.


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This is a dissertation about different types of cross-dressed performance in Shakespearean drama. Throughout this project, I argue for a more nuanced reading of the performance of female characters on the English Renaissance stage that not only categorizes cross-dressing along a spectrum of theatrical artifice, but also investigates how this range of artifice enriches our understanding of the plays. To demonstrate my argument, each chapter of this project will consider the degree to which the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries capitalize on a range of gendered artifice in their representation of female characters. I maintain that we cannot treat all women the same with respect to onstage cross-dressing, and that we must account for these differences in characters’ “artificial femaleness” with the play text as our guide.



William Shakespeare. Gender. Cross-dressing. Performance studies.