CROSSDRESSED CHARACTERS IN EARLY MODERN EUROPEAN THEATRE

A DATABASE BY ANA VALDEMOROS AND DAVID AMELANG


  • The aim of this database is to highlight the many characters across early modern European theatre who, at some point in their stories, present themselves publicly and externally in attire that at the time would not have been associated with their gender.
  • It is designed to be a resource for scholars and practitioners who wish to study the performance of gender transnationally in the early modern period. Much work has been done on some sections of literature from the period, and the database offers a starting point for queries made possible by expanded understandings of gender and sexuality.
  • Each entry includes the following information: the author(s) and title of the play, the name of the character and of their alter ego whenever pertinent, the date and country of the play’s first performance or publication, and the speech share of the character in the play. If you click on the “+” sign you can access additional information such as the theatrical mode and dramatic genre of the play, as well as a brief description of why the character has been included in this collection.
  • The public discourse surrounding gender in early modern European countries was almost always framed within the confines of the female-male binary, which stands at odds with the more nuanced contemporary understanding of gender as operating within a spectrum. In citing the descriptions presented in the dramatic texts of the period our objective is not to perpetuate the gender binary, but rather to make this data available to students and researchers of early modern theatre and foment more cross-cultural analysis .
  • The vast majority of entries included in this database are female characters under a male disguise or dressed in male attire. That said, in addition to male-to-female crossdressing there are also a few cases of characters who through their attire present themselves in a binary-nonconforming way (eg. Moll Cutpurse in The Roaring Girl) that we also have decided to include in this database.
  • The data in this collection is derived from the larger ROLECALL corpus, which currently comprises of plays from seven different European countries (England, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain). As the ROLECALL database grows to include more plays from more dramatists and more countries, so will this collection.
  • This is an ongoing project, curated by a graduate student and a professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Any mistakes, shortcomings and/or oversights in this database are not intentional, and we are more than happy to welcome your feedback and suggestions to improve our work.
  • Please let us know how you are using this database as well as which points of reference may be helpful for further academic and dramaturgical research.