On the Queerness of Early English Drama: Sex in the Subjunctive

By Tison Pugh

© 2021

Often viewed as theologically conservative, many theatrical works of late medieval and early Tudor England nevertheless exploited the performative nature of drama to flirt with unsanctioned expressions of desire, allowing queer identities and themes to emerge. Early plays faced vexing challenges in depicting sexuality, but modes of queerness, including queer scopophilia, queer dialogue, queer characters, and queer performances, fractured prevailing restraints. Many of these plays were produced within male homosocial environments, and thus homosociality served as a narrative precondition of their storylines.

Building from these foundations, On the Queerness of Early English Drama investigates occluded depictions of sexuality in late medieval and early Tudor dramas. Tison Pugh explores a range of topics, including the unstable genders of the York Corpus Christi Plays, the morally instructive humour of excremental allegory in Mankind, the confused relationship of sodomy and chastity in John Bale’s historical interludes, and the camp artifice and queer carnival of Sir David Lyndsay’s Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis. Pugh concludes with Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi, pondering the afterlife of medieval drama and its continued utility in probing cultural constructions of gender and sexuality

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP006560

  • AVAILABLE APR 2021

    From: $48.75

    Regular Price: $65.00

    ISBN 9781487508746
  • AVAILABLE MAR 2021

    From: $48.75

    Regular Price: $65.00

Quick Overview

This book probes occluded depictions of queerness in early English drama, ranging from medieval morality plays to Reformation interludes and beyond.

On the Queerness of Early English Drama: Sex in the Subjunctive

By Tison Pugh

© 2021

Often viewed as theologically conservative, many theatrical works of late medieval and early Tudor England nevertheless exploited the performative nature of drama to flirt with unsanctioned expressions of desire, allowing queer identities and themes to emerge. Early plays faced vexing challenges in depicting sexuality, but modes of queerness, including queer scopophilia, queer dialogue, queer characters, and queer performances, fractured prevailing restraints. Many of these plays were produced within male homosocial environments, and thus homosociality served as a narrative precondition of their storylines.

Building from these foundations, On the Queerness of Early English Drama investigates occluded depictions of sexuality in late medieval and early Tudor dramas. Tison Pugh explores a range of topics, including the unstable genders of the York Corpus Christi Plays, the morally instructive humour of excremental allegory in Mankind, the confused relationship of sodomy and chastity in John Bale’s historical interludes, and the camp artifice and queer carnival of Sir David Lyndsay’s Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis. Pugh concludes with Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi, pondering the afterlife of medieval drama and its continued utility in probing cultural constructions of gender and sexuality

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    "On the Queerness of Early English Drama fills a critical gap: no other full-length monograph has as yet dealt with early English drama from a queer perspective or indeed in relation to sexuality more generally."


    Garrett P.J. Epp, Professor Emeritus of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta

    "On the Queerness of Early English Drama is a wonderful, original, persuasive, and much needed intervention in early drama studies. Insightful in both its parts and its whole, this book builds on itself – it’s not merely or only an application of a theory in four parts, but a cohesive whole."


    Christina Fitzgerald, Professor of English Literature, University of Toledo
  • Author Information

    Tison Pugh is Pegasus Professor in the Department of English at the University of Central Florida.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction: Quem Quaeritis? Queerness in Early English Drama

    Part One: Queer Theories and Themes of Early English Drama

    1. A Subjunctive Theory of Dramatic Queerness

    2. Themes of Friendship and Sodomy

    Part Two: Queer Readings of Early English Drama

    3. Performative Typology, Jewish Genders, and Jesus’s Queer Romance in the York Corpus Christi Plays

    4. Excremental Desire, Queer Allegory, and the Disidentified Audience of Mankind

    5. Sodomy, Chastity, and Queer Historiography in John Bale’s Interludes

    6. Camp and the Hermaphroditic Gaze in Sir David Lyndsay’s Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis

    Conclusion: Theatrical Medievalisms, Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi, and the Queer Legacy of Early English Drama

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