Masculinity and Marian Efficacy in Shakespeare's England: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Masculinity and Marian Efficacy in Shakespeare's England

1st Edition

By Ruben Espinosa


206 pages

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Masculinity and Marian Efficacy in Shakespeare's England offers a new approach to evaluating the psychological 'loss' of the Virgin Mary in post-Reformation England by illustrating how, in the wake of Mary's demotion, re-inscriptions of her roles and meanings only proliferated, seizing hold of national imagination and resulting in new configurations of masculinity. The author surveys the early modern cultural and literary response to Mary's marginalization, and argues that Shakespeare employs both Roman Catholic and post-Reformation views of Marian strength not only to scrutinize cultural perceptions of masculinity, but also to offer his audience new avenues of exploring both religious and gendered subjectivity. By deploying Mary's symbolic valence to infuse certain characters, and dramatic situations with feminine potency, Espinosa analyzes how Shakespeare draws attention to the Virgin Mary as an alternative to an otherwise unilaterally masculine outlook on salvation and gendered identity formation.


'Ruben Espinosa's eloquent and sensitive study of nine of Shakespeare's plays, from an early history through the late Romances, makes a compelling case for how the fracturing of Marian efficacy in post-Reformation England not only influenced the construction of gender in English culture, but also shaped Shakespeare's dramaturgy. ' Katharine Goodland, CUNY College of Staten Island, author Female Mourning and Tragedy in Medieval and Renaissance English Drama 'Persuasively argued, this study confirms what scholars have been slow to recognize - that the Virgin Mary was a powerful presence on the English stage. Although the Virgin May may have been marginalized by Protestant theology and polemic, her potency, comfort, and efficacy could not be erased from the English psyche and was available for reimaging on the early modern English stage.' Renaissance Quarterly '[Espinosa] is careful not to be too reductive; his argument is not one-to-one mapping of Marian symbology, but a careful, nuanced hunt for motifs that both sustain and potentially disrupt conceptions of Protestant, English masculinity.' Sixteenth Century Studies Journal

About the Author

Ruben Espinosa is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Texas at El Paso, USA.

About the Series

Women and Gender in the Early Modern World

Women and Gender in the Early Modern World
The study of women and gender offers some of the most vital and innovative challenges to current scholarship on the early modern period. For more than a decade now, Women and Gender in the Early Modern World has served as a forum for presenting fresh ideas and original approaches to the field. Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary in scope, this Routledge series strives to reach beyond geographical limitations to explore the experiences of early modern women and the nature of gender in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. We welcome proposals for both single-author volumes and edited collections which expand and develop this continually evolving field of study.

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