Better a Shrew Than a Sheep: Women, Drama, and the Culture of Jest in Early Modern England

Better a Shrew Than a Sheep: Women, Drama, and the Culture of Jest in Early Modern England

by Pamela Allen Brown
     
 

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In a study that explodes the assumption that early modern comic culture was created by men for men, Pamela Allen Brown shows that jest books, plays, and ballads represented women as laugh-getters and sought out the laughter of ordinary women...See more details below

Overview

In a study that explodes the assumption that early modern comic culture was created by men for men, Pamela Allen Brown shows that jest books, plays, and ballads represented women as laugh-getters and sought out the laughter of ordinary women...

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Witty and unruly women are all subjects of discussion in Pamela Allen Brown's engrossing and meticulously researched study of the ways in which women might resist, through jokes and ridicule, the models of virtuous and submissive behavior aimed at them from the pulpit, the theatre and the print-shop. . . . Tracing the connection between a female comic tradition and popular culture at large, she draws also on the lives of women such as Alice Mustian, contrasting dramas of everyday life with those presented on the stage."—Lucy Munro, Times Literary Supplement, 9 May 2003

"Brown's book represents historicist analysis of the best possible kind. Chapters on Merry Wives, on the ale-house, cuckold jokes, female gossip as a way of countering domestic violence, cony-catching pamphlets, and the cultural reverberations around the idea of Patient Griselda fruitfully cross and recross the boundaries of literary and popular culture in early modern England."—Dympna Callaghan, Studies in English Literature, Spring 2004

"Better a Shrew does a brilliant job of locating female jesting within a network of the social practices that made up the early modern neighborhood. . . . It is one of those rare scholarly books that combines thorough research in a new field with conclusions that make us reconsider long-held convictions. It will be a potent force in future discussions of both early modern jesting literature and the daily lives of women in the period."—Mary Bly, Renaissance Quarterly, Summer 2004

"While it may be the case that women's place in jesting culture has been overlooked up to this point, this book will assuredly persuade many other scholars to follow the evidentiary trail that Brown has blazed here."—Regina Buccola, Early Theatre, 2004

"Brown's writing is clear and witty, her mission provocative, and her topic rich with unexpected nuance and variations. . . . The book is brilliantly structured so that topics discussed early on—such as gossip, neighborhoods, marriage, and horning—return with added significance in later chapters."—Donnalee Dox, Texas A and M University, Prolepsis: The Heidelberg Review of English Studies, October 2003

"Better a Shrew than a Sheep is an engaging read and sheds much-needed light on the seemingly divergent issues of women's literacy and the culture of jest in early modern England."—Jennifer Money, Women's Studies, 2003

"In Pamela Allen Brown's witty account of women in the jest literature of early modern England, women laugh rudely, scold, resist misogyny, enjoy their bodies, bargain and barter, express pleasure, secure their happiness in marriage, and outwit their opponents. By doing so, they challenge the narratives of victimization and oppression that have for too long dominated our understanding of early modern English culture. Brown shows how hundreds of texts—major and minor, famous and obscure—specify the terms of female agency even (or even especially) at the bottom of the social scale."—Gail Paster, Director, Folger Shakespeare Library

"As entertaining a take on the 'women's war' in the Renaissance as you could wish for. Lawsuits, ballads, and plays are beautifully excerpted and contextualized to show the highlights of the conflicts between women and men. I could not imagine a more trustworthy and fun-loving assembly of colorful examples from the time."—Andrew Gurr, University of Reading

Andrew Gurr
"As entertaining a take on the 'women's war' in the Renaissance as you could wish for. Lawsuits, ballads, and plays are beautifully excerpted and contextualized to show the highlights of the conflicts between women and men. I could not imagine a more trustworthy and fun-loving assembly of colorful examples from the time."
University of Reading
Gail Paster
"In Pamela Allen Brown's witty account of women in the jest literature of early modern England, women laugh rudely, scold, resist misogyny, enjoy their bodies, bargain and barter, express pleasure, secure their happiness in marriage, and outwit their opponents. By doing so, they challenge the narratives of victimization and oppression that have for too long dominated our understanding of early modern English culture. Brown shows how hundreds of texts-major and minor, famous and obscure-specify the terms of female agency even (or even especially) at the bottom of the social scale."
Director, Folger Shakespeare Library

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801488368
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
03/15/2003
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
280
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

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