Cures for Chance: Adoptive Relations in Shakespeare and Middleton

By Erin Ellerbeck

© 2022

Adoption allows families to modify, either overtly or covertly, what is considered to be the natural order. Cures for Chance explores how early modern English theatre questioned the inevitability of the biological family and proposed new models of familial structure, financial inheritance, and gendered familial authority. Because the practice of adoption circumvents sexual reproduction, its portrayal obliges audiences to reconsider ideas of nature and kinship.

This study elucidates the ways in which adoptive familial relations were defined, described, and envisioned on stage, particularly in the works of Shakespeare and Middleton. In the plays in question, families and individual characters create, alter, and manage familial relations. Throughout Cures for Chance, adoption is considered in the broader socioeconomic and political climate of the period. Literary works and a wide range of other early modern texts – including treatises on horticulture and natural history and household and conduct manuals – are analysed in their historical and cultural contexts. Erin Ellerbeck argues that dramatic representations of adoption test conventional notions of family by rendering the family unit a social construction rather than a biological certainty, and that in doing so, they evoke the alteration of nature by human hands that was already pervasive at the time.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 216 pages
  • Illustrations: 2
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP006571

  • AVAILABLE JAN 2022

    From: $41.25

    Regular Price: $55.00

    ISBN 9781487508784
  • AVAILABLE JAN 2022

    From: $41.25

    Regular Price: $55.00

Quick Overview

Cures for Chance examines how early modern dramatic representations of adoption test conventional notions of family and nature.

Cures for Chance: Adoptive Relations in Shakespeare and Middleton

By Erin Ellerbeck

© 2022

Adoption allows families to modify, either overtly or covertly, what is considered to be the natural order. Cures for Chance explores how early modern English theatre questioned the inevitability of the biological family and proposed new models of familial structure, financial inheritance, and gendered familial authority. Because the practice of adoption circumvents sexual reproduction, its portrayal obliges audiences to reconsider ideas of nature and kinship.

This study elucidates the ways in which adoptive familial relations were defined, described, and envisioned on stage, particularly in the works of Shakespeare and Middleton. In the plays in question, families and individual characters create, alter, and manage familial relations. Throughout Cures for Chance, adoption is considered in the broader socioeconomic and political climate of the period. Literary works and a wide range of other early modern texts – including treatises on horticulture and natural history and household and conduct manuals – are analysed in their historical and cultural contexts. Erin Ellerbeck argues that dramatic representations of adoption test conventional notions of family by rendering the family unit a social construction rather than a biological certainty, and that in doing so, they evoke the alteration of nature by human hands that was already pervasive at the time.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 216 pages
  • Illustrations: 2
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Author Information

    Erin Ellerbeck is an assistant professor of English at the University of Victoria.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction: Shaping the Family

    1. Shakespeare’s Adopted Children and the Language of Horticulture

    2. Animal Parenting in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus

    3. Adopted Bastards in A Chaste Maid in Cheapside

    4. Adoptive Names in Middleton’s Women Beware Women

    Afterword: In loco parentis

    Bibliography

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