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Shakespeare's Widows


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Table of Contents

Precept and Practice Exemplary 'Seeming Widows Problematic Widowed Mothers War Widows Working Widows Lusty Widows/Remarried Widows Opting Out

About the Author

DOROTHEA KEHLER is Professor Emeritus of English Literature, San Diego State University, USA and a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University.


"Fills a major void in Shakespeare criticism." - CHOICE

"The only comprehensive treatment of Shakespeare's widows, the book challenges manyreceived ideas of past and current scholarship, making an important contribution tofeminist criticism of Shakespeare and to the history of the early modern period." - James Schiffer, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, SUNY, New Paltz

"Kehler is ingenious both in clarifying which characters actually are widows and in teasing out the economic (and in many cases political) constraints on them, which she suggests are far more important than the sexual motivations which are often ascribed to them. This is a comprehensive and illuminating study." - Lisa Hopkins, Professor of English, Sheffield Hallam University

"To the melancholy man, the resourceful heroine, and the peremptory father Kehler enables us to add the widow. Standing at the intersection of gender scripting, economics, politics, and emotional personhood, Shakespeare s thirty-one widows provide Kehler with the subject for meditations that manage to be dramatic as well as historical, imaginatively engaging as well as ideological. In Kehler s sympathetic and suggestive account Shakespeare s highly varied portrayals are not without implications for life choices today." - Bruce R. Smith, Dean s Professor of English, University of Southern California and author of Shakespeare and Masculinity

"In this ambitious survey of some 30 widows in 20 of Shakespeare's plays, Kehler groups widows in aptly titled chapters, e.g., 'Exemplary "Seeming Widows,"' 'Problematic Widowed Mothers,' 'War Widows,' 'Opting Out' (through suicide). By focusing on cultural ambivalence toward widows, the author revisits thematic controversies of gender, class, and religion from a fresh perspective. Kehler contextualizes Shakespeare's widows using social history, fascinating statistics, and references to current pop culture and offers many thoughtful insights (discussions of Volumnia, Tamora, and Gertrude are especially strong)." - Choice

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