For our next meeting, Friday May 10, Erika T. Lin (CUNY Graduate Center) will give a paper titled "Queer Affect and Holiday Crossdressing in Early Modern Performance."
Queer affect in the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries has often been studied in relation to cultural discourses, such as prostitution, household service, and humoral theories of the body. Yet despite extensive criticism on works such as Twelfth Night and As You Like It, few have addressed the most widespread forms of gender and sexual play in early modern England: at Christmas, Shrovetide, Whitsuntide, and other key dates on the ritual calendar, people at all social levels celebrated by engaging in gender-nonconforming roleplay and sexualized song and dance. If audience members were themselves also regular participants in festive games, how did their familiarity with such customs shape their experiences with theatre? Focusing especially on John Lyly’s Galatea, this talk explores how holiday crossdressing influenced not only dramatic narrative but also the presentational dynamics of the stage. By producing complex identifications and audience affects, early modern theatre, I argue, positioned potentially transgressive desires less as marginalized sexual perversion than as socially central festive inversion. Attending to embodied performance enables us to better see these dynamics and gives us a more capacious view of what exactly was queer about early modern theatre.
The event will be held in Faculty House, 64 Morningside Drive. As usual, social hour will be from 5-6, dinner 6-7, and the talk 7-8:30. The cost for dinner, payable by check only, is $30. When you RSVP please indicate whether or not you plan to come to dinner; please give 10 days advance notice.