Plenary III: Violence
Saturday, November 11
9:00 - 10:30 am
Workshop 25. Subverting Masculine Codes
of Violence: The Cases of Isabella Andreini, Elizabeth Cary, and
Maria de Zayas
Organizers: Lucia Bortoli (Comparative
Studies), Maria Luisa Guardiola (Spanish), Maria Reina Ruiz (Foreign
Abstract: Through the interdisciplinary
analysis of Isabella Andreini's La Mirtilla (1588), Elizabeth Cary's
The Tragedy of Mariam (1612) and María de Zayas's novella
The Judge of Her Case (1637), this workshop intends to address the
codes of violence imbedded within Early Modern formulations of manhood
and gender as seen by women writers in Italy, England and Spain.
A historical, literary, and cultural approach to the texts will
help us understand the writers' manipulation of diverse literary
genres (tragicomedy, closet drama, and the novella) and questioning
of the repressive social and political mores of their times.
Part 1 [view
Isabella Andreini. La Mirtilla: A Pastoral.
(Act Three, Scene One) Translated by Julie D. Campbell (Tempe,
Part 2 [view
Elizabeth Cary. The Tragedy of Mariam, The Fair
Queen of Jewry. (Act One, Scene VI; Act Three, Scene III; Act
Four, Scene IV) Diane Purkiss, Ed. In Renaissance Women: The Plays
of Elizabeth Cary, The Poems of Amelia Lanyer (London, William
Part 3 [view
María de Zayas. Ninth novella, "The
Judge of her Case," (Unpublished, 16-21). With permission
from the translator, Elizabeth Rhodes.
Additional Information: This
workshop intends to explore the ways in which Andreini, Cary and
Zayas questioned the master narratives of violence and power of
their time. How they engaged in the process of rewriting literary
traditions, and subverting social mores as male derived and ineffectual
in understanding and representing the lives of women. Furthermore,
the workshop intends to focus on how Andreini, Cary, and Zayas sought
alternative female models of agency that did not promote self-victimization
and therefore encouraged women's survival. We will argue about the
validity of these models as they embrace the masculine ideology
of competition and aggression.
In her pastoral, La Mirtilla, Isabella Andreini
imitates-like other authors of her time-Tasso's Aminta. As Julie
Campbell puts it, Andreini "creates a pastoral tragicomedy,"
and adds a new element to the drama: "the voice of the Renaissance
female dramatist writing in response to the texts of her male contemporaries."
In the scene studied for our purpose, we witness a burlesque twist
in the representation of violence. In this case, the nymph Filli
tricks the Satiro to avoid being raped by him, and ends up making
a fool of him. The nymph subverts the traditional motief of the
lady in distress, and is able, not only of saving herself, but of
punishing the perpetrator by exposing him to public humiliation.
Through this ironic inversion, Andreini revises the rape fantasy
of pastoral tradition and questions the accepted codes of violence
of her own society. (Reina Ruiz)
Written at a time when women were to be "chaste,
silent, and obedient," The Tragedy of Mariam portrays women
that are neither chaste, nor silent, nor obedient. Mariam rejects
her marriage vows and does not suffer silently the abuse of a husband/lord.
Her enemy, Salome, boisterously declares her own divorce and skillfully
manipulates Herod into eliminating both husband and rival. In our
workshop we will show how key elements of Cary's drama such as slander,
intrigue, verbal and physical abuse against women, and the punishment,
execution style, of disobedient and vocal wives, describe all too
well the conditions of danger and suffering in which women lived,
both privately and publicly, in 17th century England. Furthermore,
we will consider how Cary manipulated the biblical narrative of
Josephus and of the tradition of the closet drama to expose issues
of male and female power and to question the practice of violence
as government tool. By making her female characters neither good
nor bad, but rather more or less apt to use the existing system
to survive, and by emphasizing the male character's psychological
density, Cary subverted the patriarchal moralism of the closet drama
tradition and portrayed real women fending for themselves. (Lucia
María de Zayas' desengaño "The
Judge of Her Case" belongs to the literary conventions of the
Byzantine peripeteia used by many Spanish Golden Age male writers
such as Cervantes, Lope de Vega and Timoneda. However, Zayas's story
differs from her male writer counterparts in the manner in which
women are presented as free-acting agents even though, as Charnon-Deutsch
points out, "in the seventeenth-century account of things,
[a woman's step forward always is] in the guise of a man."
Violence in its different manifestations, domination, suicide, rape,
etc., is guaranteed by male behavior but subverted by female agency.
The cross dressed women invert many gender stereotypes, yet it will
be the female character who mimics the dominant categories of virtue,
the one who will prevail. The excerpt we will analyze offers an
example of Zayas' ambivalent treatment of gender boundaries in a
society marked by violent codes of male behavior. (Maria Luisa Guardiola)
Methodologically, in the workshop discussion we
will encourage interdisciplinary approaches in order to gain a broader
and at the same time sharper understanding of the texts. We will
rely on archival studies published in recent years to interpret
the cultural milieu in which the texts were written. We will also
encourage a close reading of the texts as women's narratives often
tell the untold story between the lines. Andreini, Cary, and Zayas
functioned in societies of men and therefore engaged in inconspicuous
decoding of practices and ideologies hostile to them.
Structure of the Workshop: The workshop
will develop through a series of activities and will follow the
First activity, 10 minute: The session will
begin with a general statement on the organization and the outline
of the workshop. This will be followed by the introduction of
all conveners and participants who will have then the chance to
state their interest in the workshop.
Second activity, 20 minutes: Each convener will
then give a five minute introduction to one author's historical
background and literary tradition, will also introduce the selected
readings, and offer a few questions to open and facilitate the
group discussion (see list of questions below). We ask participants
to come to the workshop with responses to at least two questions.
Third activity, 20 minutes: The conveners then
will separate and each lead a small group discussion of the texts
in relation to the questions proposed in advance. This will be
an opportunity for every participant to provide a personal input
on the readings and also a reflection on how the materials illuminate
their own research and teaching.
Fourth Activity, 30 minutes: All together the
participants will share ideas and issues raised in the smaller
groups, with the purpose to highlight the communalities among
the different disciplinary approaches applied in the text analysis.
This activity will also offer a chance to share methodological
strategies in teaching these texts.
Fifth activity, 10 minutes: The conveners will
conclude the workshop by providing a summary of ideas and a dramatic
reading of Isabella Andreini's section of La Mirtilla.
- How do Andreini, Cary and Zayas manipulate
the literary tradition in which they operate (pastoral, biblical,
and courtly love respectively)?
- How do the texts question rituals of courtship,
and political intrigues within the genres of comedy, tragedy,
and the novella?
- How do Andreini, Cary and Zayas depict social
practices of revenge, street violence, rape, insults, and defamation
and how historical and cultural studies help us understand both
the authors and their work?
- How do the authors question the traditional
formulations of manhood as perpetuating violence towards women?
- How do Andreini, Cary and Zayas condemn or
sanction acts of violence in which women are the perpetrators?
More specifically how do they view female violence in terms of
class, family position and social status?
- How can these texts help further understand
women's voices of the past, and how can they help identify codes
of violence privately and publicly interrelated within a transnational
- How can Andreini's, Cary's and Zayas's texts
be taught to show a connection between 17th century debates and
today's debates on women?
- How can technology help us expand our interdisciplinary
method of analysis to secure a more vibrant and informative reading
of Andreini, Cary, and Zayas's cases?
Brown, Pamela Allen. Better a Shrew than a Sheep:
Women, Drama, and the Culture of Jest in Early Modern England (Ithaca:
Callaghan, Dympna. "Rereading Elizabeth Cary's
The Tragedie of Mariam, Faire Queene of Jewry." In Women, "Race,"
and Writing in the Early Modern period. Margo Hendricks and Patricia
Parker Eds. (Routledge, 1994), 163-177.
Campbell, Julie D. "Love's Victory and La
Mirtilla in The Canon of Renaissance Tragicomedy: An Examination
of the Influence of Salon and Social Debates." Women's Writing
4.1 (1997): 103-24.
Clubb, Louise George. "The State of the Arts
in the Andreini's Time." Studies in the Italian Renaissance:
Essays in Memory of Arnolfo B. Ferruolo. Eds.Gian Paolo Biasin,
Albert Manzini and Nicolas Perella. Naples: Soc. Ed. Napoletana,
Cohen, Thomas V. Love and Death in Renaissance
Italy (Chicago, 2004).
Cohn, Samuel, K. Women in the Streets: Essays
on Sex and Power in Renaissance Italy (The Johns Hopkins, 1996).
Cox, Jane. Hatred beyond the Grave: Tales of our
Ancestors from the London Church Courts (London HMSO, 1995), Ch.
Gowing, Laura. Domestic Dangers: Women, Words,
and Sex in Early Modern London (Oxford, 1996).
Gamboa, Yolanda. "Architectural Cartography:
Social and Gender Mapping in María de Zayas's Seventeenth-Century
Spain" Hispanic Review, 71, (2003): 189-203.
Greer, Margaret Rich. María de Zayas Tells
Baroque Tales of Love and the Cruelty of Men (Pennsylvania State,
Jehenson, Yvonne and Welles, Marcia L. "María
de Zayas's Wounded Women: A Semiotics of Violence." In Smith,
Dawn L. and Stoll, Anita K. Ed. Gender, Identity, and Representation
in Spain's Golden Age (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell, 2000) 178-202.
Kermode, Jenny and Garthine Walker, Eds. Women
Crime, and the Courts in Early Modern England (Chapel Hill, North
Carolina, 1994), Ch. 2.
Macneil, Anne. "The Divine Madness of Isabella
Andreini." Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 120.2
Ray, Meredith Kennedy. "La castità
conquistata: The Function of the Satyr in Pastoral
Drama." Romance Languages Annual 9 (1998): 312-21.
Ruiz, Teofilo F. Spanish Society, 1400-1600 (Longman,
2001), Ch. 7, 8, 10.
Schutte Anne Jacobson, Thomas Kuehn, Silvana Seidel
Menchi. Time, Space and Women's Lives in Early Modern Europe (Truman
Sommerville, Margaret. Sex and Subjection: Attitudes
to Women in Early-Modern Society (St. Martin's Press, 1995).
Walker, Garthine. Crime, Gender and the Social
Order in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 2003).
Williamsen, Amy R. "Challenging the Code:
Honor in María de Zayas." In Maria de Zayas, The Dynamics
of Discourse. Amy Williamsen and Judith Whitenack, Eds. (Associated
University Presses, 1995), 133-151.