Late Tudor and Stuart Drama: Gender, Performance, and Material Culture

This series provides a forum for monographs and essay collections that investigate the material culture, broadly conceived, of theatre and performance in England from the late Tudor to the pre-Restoration Stuart periods (c. 1550–1650).  The editors invite proposals for book-length studies engaging in the material vitality of the dramatic text, political culture, theatre and performance history, theatrical design, performance spaces, gendering court entertainments, child- and adult-actors, music, dance, and audiences in London and on tour. We are also interested in the discursive production of gender, sex, and race in early modern England in relation to material historical, social, cultural, and political structures; changes to and effects of law; monarchy and the republic in dramatic texts; theatre and performance, including performance spaces that are not in theatres.  Further topics might include the production and consumption of things and ideas; costumes, props, theatre records and accounts, gendering of spaces and geographies (court, tavern, street, and household, rural or urban), cross-dressing, military or naval excursions, gendered pastimes, games, behaviours, rituals, fashions, and encounters with the exotic, the non-European, the disabled, and the demonic and their reflection in text and performance.

To submit a proposal, please contact Erika Gaffney, Senior Acquisitions Editor, at

Geographical Scope

United Kingdom

Chronological Scope

c. 1550-1650


Drama, Theatre, Performance, Material Culture, Gender, Shakespeare and his contemporaries

Editorial Contact

Titles in Production or Contracted

Andrew McCarthy (University of Tennessee), Mourning Men in Shakespeare’s England

Theodora Jankowski (University of Washington), Elizabeth I, the Subversion of Flattery, and John Lyly’s Plays and Entertainments

Ursula A. Potter (University of Western Australia), The Unruly Womb in Early Modern English Drama: Plotting Women’s Biology on the Stage

Frederika Bain (University of Hawai’i), Dismemberment in the Medieval and Early Modern English Imaginary: The Performance of Difference

Mark Benjamin Kaethler (Medicine Hat College), Thomas Middleton and the Plural Politics of Jacobean Drama


Series Editors

Cristina León Alfar

My research interests include Early Modern English Drama, particularly Shakespeare, and the intersections between literature, culture, gender, law, and politics. I teach Shakespeare, late 16th and early 17th century English Drama, early modern English Women writers, and feminist theory.

My new book, Women and Shakespeare’s Cuckoldry Plays: Shifting Narratives of Marital Betrayal (Routledge, 2017), focuses on the dramatic and rhetorical work of women’s defenses against men’s accusations of adultery.  I argue that the plays stage a structure of accusation and defense that unravels the authority of husbands to make and unmake wives.  Valorizations of virtue and obedience, fidelity and love, work loose the fabric of masculine privileges in marriage, so that the rhetoric of defense turns into a site of agency while simultaneously remaining bound to the rhetoric of the accusation.  Men’s and women’s competing narratives of marital betrayal uncover the ethical and political stakes for women in men’s stories of feminine duplicity, and the necessity of a defense opens opportunities for women to alter the dramatic direction, energy, and matter of the plays.

Currently, I am at work with Emily Sherwood (BA and PhD CUNY, Assistant Director of Digital Pedagogy and Scholarship and a Faculty Teaching Associate in the English Department at Bucknell University), transcribing a collection of letters, a legal complaint, and final award of indenture that document the marital troubles of Elizabeth and Anthony Bourne, both children of courtiers during the reign of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I (British Library and National Archives. The project is under contract with Routledge.  Along with a critical introduction, The Selected Letters of Elizabeth and Anthony Bourne will appear in “The Early Modern Englishwoman, 1500-1750: Contemporary Editions,” a series edited by Betty S. Travitsky and Anne Lake Prescott.

Finally, I am at the beginning stages of thinking about a project tentatively titled Troubling Feminist Ethics in Early Modern English Drama that is influenced by The Government of Self and Others by Michel Foucault who studies a form of rhetoric called parrēsia, a term that the OED defines as “free-spokenness, . . . Chiefly [in] Rhetoric. Frankness or boldness of speech.”  He argues that “[p]arrēsia founds democracy and democracy is the site of parrēsia” (Government of Self 300), so that freedom of speech is linked to questions of sovereignty that I read in light of women’s discursive practices in early modern drama.  I posit a feminist ethics of citizenship on the part of female characters in plays such as The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, The Roaring Girl, The Tragedy of Mariam, King Henry VIII, and The White Devil.  Focused on women’s points of view and acts that are troubling and ethically questionable (such as the bed trick or trapping Shylock, for example), I trace how these female characters also work from a rhetorical and substantive space of integrity that challenges the ethical standards deployed by a dominant social structure in place not only in a text, but also in the early modern period.

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Helen Ostovich

Helen Ostovich’s expertise centres on Ben Jonson, on his stage practice, and interaction with fellow dramatists (Shakespeare, Marston, Chapman, Middleton, Massinger, Brome, Shirley). She has published articles on Shakespeare and on Jonson, dealing with issues of gender and Jonson’s reputation for misogyny, on Jonson’s interests in the new science, and on his connections with the Cavendish family. She has produced a modern critical edition of his four major comedies called Ben Jonson : Four Comedies (London: Longman, 1997) and an edition of his Every Man Out of His Humour for Revels Plays (Manchester UP, 2001). Her edition of Jonson’s The Magnetic Lady is in Volume 6 of The Cambridge Edition of the Complete Works of Ben Jonson,  in paper and online (2012). Ostovich has also co-edited with Elizabeth Sauer (Brock University) the prize-winning  Reading Early Modern Women published by Routledge in 2004. She is currently editing Shakespeare’s All’s Well that Ends Well with co-editor Karen Bamford (Mount Allison University) and Andrew Griffin (University of California Santa Barbara) for Internet Shakespeare Editions; and Heywood and Brome’s The Late Lancashire Witches and A Jovial Crew for Richard Brome Online editions are currently being prepared as scholarly editions for Oxford University Press (2018). She was editor of the REED (Records of Early English Drama) Newsletter from 1994-97 and is now the editor of the peer-reviewed journal of theatre history and performance, Early Theatre: A Journal Associated with the Records of Early English Drama, now with co-editor Melinda Gough. Ostovich is one of the General Editors of The Revels Plays (with David Bevington, Alison Findlay, and Richard Dutton), the Series Editor of Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama for Ashgate Publishing, and with Professor Alexandra Johnston (REED, University of Toronto)  and PLS <> was involved in the recovery of performance styles of an early modern acting company as part of a large project called “Shakespeare and the Queen’s Men”, which included performances in Toronto and Hamilton, a conference, and publications (electronic and print) of playtexts and essays. The collection of essays, co-edited with Holger Schott Syme and Andrew Griffin, is called Locating the Queen’s Men, 1583-1603: Material Practices and Conditions of Playing (Ashgate, 2009). Her most recent books include The Chester Cycle in Context, 1555-1575: Religion, Drama, and the Impact of Change with Jessica Dell and David Klausner; and The Alchemist: A Critical Reader, Arden Early Modern Drama Guides (London; Bloomsbury, 2013) with Erin Julian

She has also contributed to the making of the website Performing the Queen’s Men In the continuation of that project, she is General Editor of Queen’s Men Editions with associate editors Andrew Griffin (UCSB) and Jennifer Roberts-Smith (Waterloo), and organizing the June 2015 Taylor conference at McMaster on “Performance as Research, and The Three Ladies of London (1584)” with pre-conference short papers about both topics along with practical rehearsal and performance videos amd blogs currently  on  but later to be moved to Queen’s Men Editions.

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