1st Edition

Rethinking Feminism in Early Modern Studies Gender, Race, and Sexuality

Edited By Ania Loomba, Melissa E. Sanchez Copyright 2016
    292 Pages
    by Routledge

    292 Pages
    by Routledge

    Winner of the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women’s Collaborative Book Prize 2017

    Rethinking Feminism in Early Modern Studies is a volume of essays by leading scholars in the field of early modern studies on the history, present state, and future possibilities of feminist criticism and theory. It responds to current anxieties that feminist criticism is in a state of decline by attending to debates and differences that have emerged in light of ongoing scholarly discussions of race, affect, sexuality, and transnationalism-work that compels us continually to reassess our definitions of ’women’ and gender. Rethinking Feminism demonstrates how studies of early modern literature, history, and culture can contribute to a reimagination of feminist aims, methods, and objects of study at this historical juncture.

    While the scholars contributing to Rethinking Feminism have very different interests and methods, they are united in their conviction that early modern studies must be in dialogue with, and indeed contribute to, larger theoretical and political debates about gender, race, and sexuality, and to the relationship between these areas. To this end, the essays not only analyze literary texts and cultural practices to shed light on early modern ideology and politics, but also address metacritical questions of methodology and theory. Taken together, they show how a consciousness of the complexity of the past allows us to rethink the genealogies and historical stakes of current scholarly norms and debates.

    Introduction: Why feminism? Why now?, Ania Loomba and Melissa E. Sanchez. Part I Histories: Feminism and the Burdens of History, Ania Loomba and Melissa E. Sanchez; Family Quarrels: Feminist Criticism, Queer Studies, and Shakespeare in the 21st Century, Coppélia Kahn; Tempestuous Transitions and Double Vision: from Early to Late Modern Gendered Performances in Higher Education, Diana Henderson. Part II Methods: ‘First as tragedy, then as…’: Gender, Genre, History, and Romeo and Juliet, Crystal Bartolovich; Shakespeare's Laundry: Feminist Futures in the archive, Natasha Korda; Constructions of Race and Gender in the Two Texts of Othello, Leah Marcus. Part III Bodies: ‘Travelling bodyes’: Native Women of the Northeast and Northwest Passage Ventures and English Discourses of Empire, Bernadette Andrea; Moral Constitution: Elizabeth Carey’s Tragedy of Mariam and the Color of Blood, Kimberly Anne Coles; Gertrude/Ophelia: Feminist Intermediality, Ekphrasis, and Tenderness in Hamlet, Sujata Iyengar. Part IV Agency: Samson’s Gospel of Sex: Failed Universals in Milton and Freud, Richard Halpern; Chasing Chastity: the Case of Desdemona, Will Stockton; Whose Body?, Kathryn Schwarz. Afterword: Early Modern (Feminist) Methods, Valerie Traub.


    Ania Loomba is Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, USA.

    Melissa E. Sanchez is Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, USA.

    'Rethinking Feminism offers an unusually candid and crisp account of the challenges that scholars face when they attempt to take "gender," "race," and "sexuality" seriously as equivalent categories of analysis.

    Collating first-person accounts of academic politics with examples of divergent ways of doing feminism, this collection argues cogently that a robust feminism must theorize its methods and forcefully make points of disagreement visible.

    Loomba and Sanchez insist that feminism must be vigilantly self-critical about its methods and practices. One of the book’s main contributions lies, in fact, in making scholarship productively uncomfortable.'

    Wendy Wall, Northwestern University, USA

    'This vibrant collection models the commitment to debate and contestation that has been the signature of feminist work on the early modern period since the 1980s. Methodologically self-aware, full of new discoveries, and daring both in its expanded deployment and its critique of intersectional analysis, Rethinking Feminism in Early Modern Studies shows why feminism remains a crucial lens through which to explore both the past and the present.'

    Jean E. Howard, Columbia University, USA


    ‘Rethinking Feminism in Early Modern Studies is a stellar collection of essays that will reshape the future of feminist work on this period. This book is a must read for everyone who works on this period and for anyone invested in the feminist agenda.’

    Dympna C. Callaghan, Syracuse University, USA