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Shakespeare's Early Modern Female Readers and Annotators from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth century: An Overview

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Abstract

By way of introduction, this essay considers the question of women’s literacy and suggests that quantitative studies have underestimated the number of women who were able to read and write during the period. It then moves on to early modern women collectors of Shakespearean editions, showing that throughout the period under study a substantial number of women owned collections that could easily compete with those of men. The next part of the presentation is devoted to case studies of early modern women who made their voices heard essentially through their annotations of Shakespeare’s editions. So as to give an idea of the variety of responses to his works, the article focuses on personal or idiosyncratic readings of Shakespeare as well. Finally, the essay considers how female readers of Shakespeare expressed their tastes by their annotations and also through epistolary exchanges, thus shaping literary opinion in the eighteenth century in important ways. Their contributions to literary history helped change Shakespeare’s reputation, turning him into a writer rated as highly as classical authors, which in turn guaranteed his cultural relevance in the present.
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hal-03504657 , version 1 (27-08-2022)

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Attribution - NoDerivatives - CC BY 4.0

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  • HAL Id : hal-03504657 , version 1

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Jean-Christophe Mayer. Shakespeare's Early Modern Female Readers and Annotators from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth century: An Overview. Ecrire pour elles, Clotilde Thouret, Mar 2021, Nancy, France. ⟨hal-03504657⟩
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