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Ovid and Adaptation in Early Modern English Theatre$
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Lisa S. Starks

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474430067

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474430067.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Queer Gender Informants in Ovid and Shakespeare

Queer Gender Informants in Ovid and Shakespeare

Chapter:
(p.21) Chapter 1 Queer Gender Informants in Ovid and Shakespeare
Source:
Ovid and Adaptation in Early Modern English Theatre
Author(s):

Simone Chess

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474430067.003.0002

How might queer moments in Ovid be in conversation with Shakespeare? This essay pairs three queer Ovidian characters-- Tiresias, Caenis/Caenus, and Iphis-- with three Shakespearean characters-- Mardian the eunuch from Antony and Cleopatra, Portia/Balthazar from Merchant of Venice, and Viola/Cesario from Twelfth Night. Functioning more as rhizomatic associations than direct adaptations, these pairings show that Shakespeare uses Ovidian strategies in positioning his eunuch and crossdressing characters as code switchers who are especially poised to make crucial judgements and give critical insights. Through the juxtapositions of textual queerness, I find that Shakespeare, in the tradition of and seemingly in conversation with, Ovid staged nonbinary characters as queer gender informants whose insights and experiences add value to the plays.

Keywords:   queer, gender, informant, eunuch, cross-dressing, Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night

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