Billing, Christian M., Masculinity, Corporeality and the English Stage 15801635, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2008; hardback; pp. 248; 17 b/w illustrations; R.R.P. £55.00; ISBN 9780754656517. Christian Billing's well-researched exploration of the understanding in TudorStuart professional theatre of `the anatomical facts of sex identity and the sociological constructs of gender' particularly masculinity challenges the `fashionable' position in much contemporary scholarship that the Galenic `one-sex anatomical model held sway as the defining mode of corporeal understanding until the Enlightenment', and that `fears of corporeal instability' attendant upon it `were the root cause of gender-related anxiety' (pp. 2-3, 16; my emphasis). Critical of Thomas Laqueur's Making Sex (1990), Jean Howard's `now standard teaching edition of As You Like It' for the Norton Shakespeare (1997), and Laura Levine's Men in Women's Clothing (1994), as the key disseminators of the prevailing view, Billing argues `that medical evidence for and cultural acceptance of fluid sex and gender models ... is extremely thin on the ground especially any evidence that refers explicitly to the oft-asserted power of histrionic activity to be evidence of mutation' (pp. 2-3, 6, 8). To support his argument, Billing musters evidence of `the breakdown' of the `one-sex model' in the
Parergon – Australian & New Zealand Association of Medieval & Early Modern Studies, Inc. (ANAZAMEMS, Inc.)
Published: Jan 21, 2009
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