Staging Domesticity: Household Work and English Identity in Early Modern Drama

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Cambridge University Press, Jan 10, 2002 - Drama - 292 pages
What role does food and cooking play in how people imagine themselves and their communities? In this book Wendy Wall argues that representations of housework in the early modern period helped to forge crucial conceptions of national identity. Rich with a detailed account of household practices in the period, Staging Domesticity reads plays on the London stage in the light of the first printed cookbooks in England. Working from original historical sources on wetnursing, laundering, sewing, medical care and butchery, Wall shows that domesticity was represented as deeply familiar but also enticingly alien. Wall analyses a wide range of the repertoire, including some now little-known plays, as well as key works in the period by Shakespeare and others. Wall concludes that, rather than dramatizations of only court-based and aristocratic domestic life, literature of the period drew on work from the more common household.
 

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Contents

In the nations kitchen
1
Familiarity and pleasure in the English household guide 15001700
18
Needles and birches pedagogy domesticity and the advent of English comedy
59
Why does Puck sweep? Shakespearean fairies and the politics of cleaning
94
The erotics of milk and live food or ingesting early modern Englishness
127
Tending to bodies and boys queer physic in Knight of the Burning Pestle
161
Blood in the kitchen service taste and violence in domestic drama
189
Notes
221
Bibliography
266
Index
286
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About the author (2002)

Wendy Wall is Associate Professor of English Literature at Northwestern University and a scholar of early modern literature and culture. She is the author of The Imprint of Gender: Authorship and Publication in the English Renaissance (Cornell University Press, 1993) and co-editor of the journal Renaissance Drama. Wall has published widely on print technology, voyeurism, women's writing, poetry, housework, and early modern culture.

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