• "I loved well to see plays": Women on and off stage in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, Italy, and Spain
  • Santoro, Josmary <1985>


  • L-LIN/10 Letteratura inglese


  • This work investigates women’s role as patron-spectators in the theatre of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, Italy, and Spain. The aim of such an excursion into the little researched theme of early modern women’s theatregoing is to prove that, even though women, according to traditional periodization, cannot be said to have had a Renaissance, the theatrical event, be it the popular phenomenon that took place in the English and the Spanish public playhouses, or the exclusive happening patronised by the Italian aristocrats, allowed women to temporarily shake off the cultural and social shackles imposed on their sex. Women’s presence at the theatre has been demonstrated by making reference to three types of contemporary commentary: the anti-theatrical polemic; women’s ego documents; various plays’ prologues and epilogues. It was found that by letting them infringe their homeboundness in order to attend the theatre, and watch the enactment of plays that some feared might change their worldview and encourage them to re-act, the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century drama gave women the opportunity to experience autonomy, agency, and empowerment. The analysis of three plays from the period at hand – William Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona; Alessandro Piccolomini’s L’Alessandro; Guillén de Castro’s La fuerza de la costumbre – is meant to show a woman’s character gradual shift from a situation in which she acts as an object of exchange between men, to a situation where that position is called into question by the expression of a non-normative desire, to, finally, the representation of a subjectivity that deconstructs all the conventions and convictions concerning women.


  • 2019-11-22


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Santoro, Josmary (2019) "I loved well to see plays": Women on and off stage in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, Italy, and Spain, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Dese - les litteratures de l'europe unie/ european literatures/ letterature dell'europa unita , 31 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/9119.