Know Shakespeare: Who Were Shakespeare’s Women?

Posted By:  Liz Goodrich
Date Posted:  2/22/2013

Amy Greenstadt“O Romeo, Romeo,” sighed Juliet. “Out damn spot,” raved Lady Macbeth. “The lady doth protest too much,” stated Gertrude. What can we discern about William Shakespeare that some of his most powerful and memorable lines were delivered by the female characters he created? Join Portland State University Professor Amy Greenstadt and see what William Shakespeare was up to with his female characters. The presentations are free and open to the public and part of the Know Shakespeare series at Deschutes Public Library.

March 2, 2013 • 3:00 p.m.
East Bend Public Library

March 3, 2013 • 2:00 p.m.
Sisters Public Library

According to Greenstadt, in the Shakespearean theater all female parts were played by male actors. However, Greenstadt asserts that even though they were portrayed by male actors, as per the custom of the day, Shakespeare’s female characters, including Cleopatra, Rosalind, Ophelia and Lady Macbeth, were used to challenge gender sterotypes. Consider the fact, says Greenstadt, “the most powerfully likable of Shakespeare’s women spend most of their time onstage dressed as boys.” During her presentation Greenstadt will address the questions of gender stereotypes, desire and sexual difference as chronicled by Shakespeare and his female characters.

Amy Greenstadt grew up in New York City, found herself in San Francisco, and found a home in Portland. She studies English Renaissance literature and culture, especially the histories of gender, sexuality, and race. She has written a book, Rape and the Rise of the Author (2009), and has published articles on Shakespeare's poetry and drama. Her most recent article is on circumcision and same-sex desire in The Merchant of Venice.

For more information about this or other library programs, please visit the library website at People with disabilities needing accommodations (alternative formats, seating or auxiliary aides) should contact Liz at 312-1032.

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