New Book: Ursula Potter on ‘The Unruly Womb’
The Unruly Womb in Early Modern English Drama by Ursula Potter
The Unruly Womb in Early Modern English Drama was written with the aim of appealing to undergraduate and senior high school students interested in ideas about puberty and family in Shakespeare’s time and how they compare today. As the book shows, Shakespeare’s interest in daughters approaching sexual maturity and in father-daughter relations at this crucial stage of life remained a constant in his work. Out of 37 plays attributed to Shakespeare 16 build father-daughter relations into the plot. In virtually all of them a daughter’s sexual development presents a challenge to an often aged father.
The plays discussed deal with such relevant themes as: the generation gap between aged fathers with young daughters; fears of sexual maturation in beloved daughters; overprotective fathers, the effects of religious education on girls at puberty, and the threat of eating disorders (green sickness). All of these are as relevant today as they were four hundred years ago and the book aims to encourage students to engage with Shakespeare (and others) from their own youthful perspectives and experiences.
The Unruly Womb is written with appropriate language levels for senior secondary school students. The ideas are new and enlightening and always supported by textual quotations and historical evidence. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular play and can be read in isolation, although taken together they demonstrate a consistent thread of interest by dramatists in female biology over a period of time which witnessed the unprecedented rise in English physicians specialising in women’s health.
For more details or to purchase a copy (in hardcover or eBook formats), see the catalogue page on De Gruyter online.
– Chris Green