Of Chastity and Power

Elizabethan Literature and the Unmarried Queen

By Philippa Berry

© 1994 – Routledge

216 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415056724
pub: 1994-10-05
US Dollars$45.95
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e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

Elizabeth I was one of the most powerful women rulers in European history. What can feminism reveal about the attitudes of her male subjects towards this enigmatic figure?

Through readings of key Elizabethan texts by Lyly, Ralegh, Chapman, Shakespeare, and Spenser, Philippa Berry shows that while Elizabeth's combination of chastity with political and religious power was repeatedly idealized, it was also perceived as extremely disturbing. The figure of the unmarried queen implicitly challenged the masculine focus of Renaissance discourses of love, philosophy and absolutist political ideology.

In her exploration of the potent combination of themes of sexuality and politics with classical myth and Neoplatonic mysticism, Berry offers a radical reassessment of the status of `woman' as a bearer of meaning within Renaissance literature and culture.

Reviews

`Philippa Berry possesses both a detailed knowledge of Elizabethan texts and a sophisticated grasp of feminist critical theory. In this incisive account she offers a new perspective on the materiality of sexual politics in the Renaissance.' - Catherine Belsey

` … this is a brilliant little book.' - English Historical Review

`Her reinterpretation of Elizabethan politics and culture is intelligent, scholarly, and often compelling and will be of interest to historians and cultural critics alike' - Journal of the History of Sexuality

`Philippa Berry possesses both a detailed knowledge of Elizabethan texts and a sophisticated grasp of feminist critical theory. In this incisive account she offers a new perspective on the materiality of sexual politics in the Renaissance.' - Catherine Belsey

` … this is a brilliant little book.' - English Historical Review

`Her reinterpretation of Elizabethan politics and culture is intelligent, scholarly, and often compelling and will be of interest to historians and cultural critics alike' - Journal of the History of Sexuality

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LIT000000
LITERARY CRITICISM / General