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Early Modern Queerness
The resources in this section are offered to help you investigate how early modern English people understood sexuality, intimacy, and desire, and how that historical context can affect modern queer studies, interpretations, and performances of Shakespeare’s work.
Queer Philologies: Sex, Language, and Affect Shakespeare’s Time
By Jeffrey Masten.
This book is a history of both Elizabethan sexuality and Elizabethan language, and a study of how certain words and phrases inform our understanding of early modern views on sexuality. The student may find this resource useful for investigating how Shakespeare’s audiences understood certain nuances of language now largely lost to modern audiences, and how those meanings can inform queer readings of the work.
Intimacy and Sexuality in the Age of Shakespeare
By James Bromley.
While only one of the chapters in this book focuses on Shakespeare, Bromely’s argument that we can learn about non-standard (that is, queer) sexual practices in early modern England from its literature is certainly applicable to Shakespeare studies. This book combines queer and historicist approaches in its analysis, and may prove particularly useful to those studying the problem comedies.
Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare's England: A Cultural Poetics
By Bruce R. Smith.
Smith does not deal extensively with any one particular Shakespearean work, but he does discuss the role homosexual desire played in early modern England as discovered through its literature, rather than through laws or medical texts. This text is relevant for the information it provides about the cultural environment Shakespeare lived and wrote in.
Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire
By Eve Kosovsky Sedgwick.
First published in 1985, this book is now a cornerstone of queer literary studies. Although Kosovsky examines literature written far later than Shakespeare’s lifetime, her book does contain an entire chapter on Shakespeare’s sonnets and the development of men’s homosocial desire in early modern English literature.