The Sex Lives of Shakespearean Women Article (Faculty180)

cited authors

  • Gamble, Joseph


  • This essay introduces the concept of the “sex life” to early modern studies and the history of sexuality. While colloquial use of the phrase “sex life” usually takes the form of a value judgment—one’s sex life is either good or bad—the “sex life” in fact implicitly indexes a whole host of commonly-held assumptions about the ways that sex weaves itself—mentally, physically, emotionally, and politically—through everyday life. I demonstrate the analytic value of this concept by using it to re-evaluate standard readings of female characters in a wide variety of Shakespeare’s plays—Macbeth, Troilus and Cressida, Othello, Henry the Fifth, Much Ado About Nothing, The Merchant of Venice, and Antony and Cleopatra. In so doing I offer a method for a phenomenological approach to the study of character, both in Shakespeare and on the early modern stage more broadly.


publication date

  • 2020

published in

start page

  • 132

end page

  • 138


  • 48