Staging Slander and Gender in Early Modern England
This book examines slander in early modern England as a gendered and theatrical cultural practice. Habermann explores oral defamation – the negative fashioning of others – in language and rhetoric, social interaction and the law, literature and authorship as well as religion, subjectivity and the body. Since the 'slander triangle', which requires an accuser, an audience and a victim, is inherently theatrical, the dramatic representation of slander forms a central concern of the study. Focusing on sexual slander in particular, Habermann shows how femininity was fashioned between praise and slander, and how the 'slandered heroine' emerged as an influential fantasy of femininity – a linguistic, legal and social mechanism that lends itself to masculine self-fashioning through the display of eloquence but that is also subject to resignification by female authors. As theatre and the law mutually influence each other, drama offers a poetic inquiry into the gendered subject and the social life of the community.
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