Sex and Satiric Tragedy in Early Modern England: Penetrating Wit, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Sex and Satiric Tragedy in Early Modern England

Penetrating Wit, 1st Edition

By Gabriel A. Rieger


158 pages

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Drawing upon recent scholarship in Renaissance studies regarding notions of the body, political, physical and social, this study examines how the satiric tragedians of the English Renaissance employ the languages of sex - including sexual slander, titillation, insinuation and obscenity - in the service of satiric aggression. There is a close association between the genre of satire and sexually descriptive language in the period, author Gabriel Rieger argues, particularly in the ways in which both the genre and the languages embody systems of oppositions. In exploring the various purposes which sexually descriptive language serves for the satiric tragedian, Rieger reviews a broad range of texts, ancient, Renaissance, and contemporary, by satiric tragedians, moralists, medical writers and critics, paying particular attention to the works of William Shakespeare, Thomas Middleton and John Webster


'For students of satire, the analyses of individual plays provide excellent models for evaluating the multidimensional effects of satiric vituperation… For students of Renaissance culture, historical contextualizations of the plays at the beginning of each chapter illuminate the political, economic, social, and moral conditions that made it possible for such a proliferation of implicit and explicit sexual allusions to be performed on the Renaissance stage.' Renaissance Quarterly 'Sex may have lost its shock value and, according to George S. Kaufman, "satire is what closes on Saturday night," but this book reminds us of their literary significance.' The European Legacy

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: sex, stoicism and satyre: the roots of satiric tragedy; 'You go not till I set you up a glass': the death of Elizabeth and the languages of gender; 'Deep ruts and fouls sloughs': sexually descriptive language and the narrative of disease; 'I'll have my will': frustrated desire and commercial culture; 'I am worth no worse a place': service, subjugation and satire; Conclusion: erotic aggression and satiric tragedy; Appendix; Works cited, Index.

About the Author

Gabriel A. Rieger is an assistant professor of medieval and Renaissance literature at Concord University in Athens, West Virginia, where he lives with his wife and daughter

About the Series

Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama

Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama
This series presents original research on theatre histories and performance histories; the time period covered is from about 1500 to the early 18th century. Studies in which women's activities are a central feature of discussion are especially of interest; this may include women as financial or technical support (patrons, musicians, dancers, seamstresses, wig-makers) or house support staff (e.g., gatherers), rather than performance per se. We also welcome critiques of early modern drama that take into account the production values of the plays and rely on period records of performance.

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