Event Title

"Draw Your Swords and Sheath Them Not": Feminization and the Fall of Empire in Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus

Graduation Year

2014

Location

Room E101, Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Start Date

12-4-2014 10:00 AM

End Date

12-4-2014 11:00 AM

Description

In a society as hierarchical and misogynist as early modern England, it seems logical to assume that gender roles were relatively rigid. However, the reality of Renaissance England more often than not fell short of this ideal; seeing a woman wearing breeches or a man donning a dress was not all together uncommon, especially at the theatre. In his tragedy Titus Andronicus, William Shakespeare plays upon the unease surrounding this early modern gender-bending, specifically the intense fear of and anxiety surrounding feminization and the feminine. In Titus, Shakespeare uses the castration and penetration of Titus to articulate the fear of feminization and, at the same time, uses the mutilation and rape of Lavinia to illustrate the fear of the feminine and of feminine penetrability. These two anxieties coalesce and result in the fall of Rome in Titus, just as early modern individuals believed that they would result in the destruction of England.

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Apr 12th, 10:00 AM Apr 12th, 11:00 AM

"Draw Your Swords and Sheath Them Not": Feminization and the Fall of Empire in Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus

Room E101, Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

In a society as hierarchical and misogynist as early modern England, it seems logical to assume that gender roles were relatively rigid. However, the reality of Renaissance England more often than not fell short of this ideal; seeing a woman wearing breeches or a man donning a dress was not all together uncommon, especially at the theatre. In his tragedy Titus Andronicus, William Shakespeare plays upon the unease surrounding this early modern gender-bending, specifically the intense fear of and anxiety surrounding feminization and the feminine. In Titus, Shakespeare uses the castration and penetration of Titus to articulate the fear of feminization and, at the same time, uses the mutilation and rape of Lavinia to illustrate the fear of the feminine and of feminine penetrability. These two anxieties coalesce and result in the fall of Rome in Titus, just as early modern individuals believed that they would result in the destruction of England.