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The Girlhood of Shakespeare's SistersGender, Transgression, Adolescence$
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Jennifer Higginbotham

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748655908

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748655908.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Sisters

Jennifer Higginbotham

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter argues that it is time to rethink the two dominant scholarly models for conceptualizing early modern gender and social hierarchies in Shakespeare’s England: 1) the triangular relationship between men, women, and boys emphasized in recent scholarly explorations of early modern sexuality and sexual difference and 2) the division of the female life cycle into the categories ‘maid,’ ‘wife,’ and ‘widow.’ Although both of these triads had significant cultural currency in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the category of the ‘girl’ exposes their limitations, disrupting the reified female identity categories on which both models were based.

Keywords:   Sex-gender system, Sexuality, Sexual difference, Gender, Girl, Early modern England, Shakespeare

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