Rina Walthaus / Marguérite Corporaal (eds.)
Heroines of the Golden StAge. Women and Drama in Spain and England, 1500-1700
2007, viii, 258 pp.
(Estudios de Literatura 105)
ISBN: 978-3-937734-42-2
€ 57,-

The essays in this collection focus on early modern women’s contributions to theatrical production in Spain and England, as inspirations for characters, as dramatic performers and as playwrights. While the possibilities for Spanish and English women’s active engagement with either public or private theatricals were different in many respects, the themes covered by these women dramatists as well as the roles performed by women from the two nations reveal interesting similarities.
In spite of decrees that intended to forbid woman’s public performance, women conquered the stage in Spain from the late sixteenth century onwards. The unconventional, assertive female, the mujer varonil, became a favourite character in Spanish Golden Age drama. Moreover, women hit the Spanish stage as actresses, in the public theatres as well as in the enclosed ambience of the convent, as leaders of theatre companies and as playwrights. While plays by English writers equally questioned ideas about traditional femininity, staging strong and assertive women who reject submission as well as silent domesticity, women’s active role in the English public theatre could only begin after the Restoration in 1660. However, English women found alternative ways of manifesting themselves as actresses or dramatists through household theatricals and through the genre of closet drama. As a comparative study this volume shows how on both Golden Age stages theatrical activity was bound up with gender subversion.
The volume contains contributions by María del Carmen Alarcón Román, Marguérite Corporaal, Alison Findlay, José Manuel González Fernández, María J. Pando Canteli, Maite Pascual Bonis, Barbara Ravelhofer, Rina Walthaus, Helen Wilcox, Amy R. Williamsen and Marion Wynne-Davies.

Rina Walthaus was lecturer in Spanish literature at the University of Leiden, where she defended her PhD thesis about Dido and Lucretia in Spanish Golden Age drama (La nieve que arde o abrasa, 1989). Since 1989 she is lecturer in Spanish literature at the University of Groningen. She was editor of the volume La mujer en la literatura hispánica de la Edad Media y el Siglo de Oro (Amsterdam/Atlanta 1993), co-editor of European Theatre 1470-1600. Traditions and Transformations (Groningen 1996) and has published a wide range of articles on medieval and early modern Spanish literature.

Marguérite Corporaal is assistant professor in British and American literature at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. In 2003 she defended her PhD thesis, entitled Wicked Words and Virtuous Voices: The Reconstruction of Tragic Subjectivity by Renaissance and Early Restoration Women Dramatists, at the University of Groningen. She has published a wide variety of articles on early modern English dramatists, plays by seventeenth-century women dramatists (Elizabeth Cary, Mary Sidney, Margaret Cavendish, Elizabeth Polwhele) as well as the correspondence between Margaret Cavendish and Constantijn Huygens in volumes of essays as well as internationally acclaimed journals such as Early Modern Literary Studies, Journal of English Studies and Renaissance Forum.