Walen, Denise A. 2005. Constructions of Female Homoeroticism in Early Modern Drama. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 978-1-4039-6875-3
A comprehensive look at themes of female homoeroticism in 16-17th century English drama and its sources.
Sometimes there are book titles that make you think, “Holy crap, am I hallucinating or is this a real thing?” After seeing hints and references to all sorts of lesbian-like themes in early modern European drama, this book turned up on my radar like a fever dream. Although I did dither for a month over the price. (Palgrave does not publish cheap books.)
The book still has the air of “thesis” hanging about it and has been only very gently massaged into book form. But the meat of the work is an extensive catalog of English theatrical works of the late 16th and early 17th centuries that speak to the topic of eroticism between women. Not just to themes and motifs that can be read erotically, but ones that are clearly intended to conjure in the audience’s imagination the possibility two women having sexual relations. In many cases the reference is fleeting, and in many it exists purely for audience titillation and doesn’t reflect the actual erotic desires of the characters. But as a catalog of pop culture takes on the subject, it provides insight into how women of the time might have understood or imagined their own lives, for good or ill, and certainly provides insight into what the reception for such women might have been in everyday life.
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