Shakespeare and the Nature of Women
Shakespeare and the Nature of Women was the first full-length feminist analysis of the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, ushering in a new era in research and criticism. Its arguments for the feminism both of the drama and the early modern period caused instant controversy, which still engrosses scholars. Dusinberre argues that Puritan teaching on sexuality and spiritual equality raises questions about women which feed into the drama, where the role of women in relation to authority structures is constantly renegotiated. Using a critical language which predates Foucault and other major theorists, Shakespeare and the Nature of Women argues that Renaissance drama highlights ways in which the feminine and the masculine are socially constructed. The presence of the boy actor on stage created an awareness of gender as performance, now crucial to contemporary feminist thought. Shakespeare and the Nature of Women claimed for women a right to speak about the literary text from their own place in history and culture. The author's Preface to the second edition traces contemporary developments in feminist scholarship, which still wrestles with the book's main thesis: Renaissance feminism, feminist Shakespeare.