Better a Shrew than a Sheep: Women, Drama, and the Culture of Jest in Early Modern England

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9780801488368: Better a Shrew than a Sheep: Women, Drama, and the Culture of Jest in Early Modern England

In a study that explodes the assumption that early modern comic culture was created by men for men, Pamela Allen Brown shows that jest books, plays, and ballads represented women as laugh-getters and sought out the laughter of ordinary women. Disputing the claim that non-elite women had little access to popular culture because of their low literacy and social marginality, Brown demonstrates that women often bested all comers in the arenas of jesting, gaining a few heady moments of agency. Juxtaposing the literature of jest against court records, sermons, and conduct books, Brown employs a witty, entertaining style to propose that non-elite women used jests to test the limits of their subjection. She also shows how women's mocking laughter could function as a means of social control in closely watched neighborhoods. While official culture beatified the sheep-like wife and disciplined the scold, jesting culture often applauded the satiric shrew, whether her target was priest, cuckold, or rapist. Brown argues that listening for women's laughter can shed light on both the dramas of the street and those of the stage: plays from The Massacre of the Innocents to The Merry Wives of Windsor to The Woman's Prize taught audiences the importance of gossips' alliances as protection against slanderers, lechers, tyrants, and wife-beaters. Other jests, ballads, jigs, and plays show women reveling in tales of female roguery or scoffing at the perverse patience of Griselda. As Brown points out, some women found Griselda types annoying and even foolish: better be a shrew than a sheep.

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From the Inside Flap:

"In Pamela Allen Brown’s witty account of women in the jest literature of early modern England, women laugh rudely, scold, resist misogyny, enjoy their bodies, bargain and barter, express pleasure, secure their happiness in marriage, and outwit their opponents. By doing so, they challenge the narratives of victimization and oppression that have for too long dominated our understanding of early modern English culture. Brown shows how hundreds of texts—major and minor, famous and obscure—specify the terms of female agency even (or even especially) at the bottom of the social scale."—Gail Paster, Director, Folger Shakespeare Library

"As entertaining a take on the ‘women’s war' in the Renaissance as you could wish for. Lawsuits, ballads, and plays are beautifully excerpted and contextualized to show the highlights of the conflicts between women and men. I could not imagine a more trustworthy and fun-loving assembly of colorful examples from the time."—Andrew Gurr, University of Reading

About the Author:

Pamela Allen Brown is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, Stamford.

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Book Description Cornell University Press, United States, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. In a study that explodes the assumption that early modern comic culture was created by men for men, Pamela Allen Brown shows that jest books, plays, and ballads represented women as laugh-getters and sought out the laughter of ordinary women. Disputing the claim that non-elite women had little access to popular culture because of their low literacy and social marginality, Brown demonstrates that women often bested all comers in the arenas of jesting, gaining a few heady moments of agency. Juxtaposing the literature of jest against court records, sermons, and conduct books, Brown employs a witty, entertaining style to propose that non-elite women used jests to test the limits of their subjection. She also shows how women s mocking laughter could function as a means of social control in closely watched neighborhoods. While official culture beatified the sheep-like wife and disciplined the scold, jesting culture often applauded the satiric shrew, whether her target was priest, cuckold, or rapist. Brown argues that listening for women s laughter can shed light on both the dramas of the street and those of the stage: plays from The Massacre of the Innocents to The Merry Wives of Windsor to The Woman s Prize taught audiences the importance of gossips alliances as protection against slanderers, lechers, tyrants, and wife-beaters. Other jests, ballads, jigs, and plays show women reveling in tales of female roguery or scoffing at the perverse patience of Griselda. As Brown points out, some women found Griselda types annoying and even foolish: better be a shrew than a sheep. Bookseller Inventory # AAV9780801488368

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Book Description Cornell University Press, United States, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.In a study that explodes the assumption that early modern comic culture was created by men for men, Pamela Allen Brown shows that jest books, plays, and ballads represented women as laugh-getters and sought out the laughter of ordinary women. Disputing the claim that non-elite women had little access to popular culture because of their low literacy and social marginality, Brown demonstrates that women often bested all comers in the arenas of jesting, gaining a few heady moments of agency. Juxtaposing the literature of jest against court records, sermons, and conduct books, Brown employs a witty, entertaining style to propose that non-elite women used jests to test the limits of their subjection. She also shows how women s mocking laughter could function as a means of social control in closely watched neighborhoods. While official culture beatified the sheep-like wife and disciplined the scold, jesting culture often applauded the satiric shrew, whether her target was priest, cuckold, or rapist. Brown argues that listening for women s laughter can shed light on both the dramas of the street and those of the stage: plays from The Massacre of the Innocents to The Merry Wives of Windsor to The Woman s Prize taught audiences the importance of gossips alliances as protection against slanderers, lechers, tyrants, and wife-beaters. Other jests, ballads, jigs, and plays show women reveling in tales of female roguery or scoffing at the perverse patience of Griselda. As Brown points out, some women found Griselda types annoying and even foolish: better be a shrew than a sheep. Bookseller Inventory # AAV9780801488368

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Book Description Cornell University Press. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 280 pages. Dimensions: 9.2in. x 6.0in. x 0.7in.In a study that explodes the assumption that early modern comic culture was created by men for men, Pamela Allen Brown shows that jest books, plays, and ballads represented women as laugh-getters and sought out the laughter of ordinary women. Disputing the claim that non-elite women had little access to popular culture because of their low literacy and social marginality, Brown demonstrates that women often bested all comers in the arenas of jesting, gaining a few heady moments of agency. Juxtaposing the literature of jest against court records, sermons, and conduct books, Brown employs a witty, entertaining style to propose that non-elite women used jests to test the limits of their subjection. She also shows how womens mocking laughter could function as a means of social control in closely watched neighborhoods. While official culture beatified the sheep-like wife and disciplined the scold, jesting culture often applauded the satiric shrew, whether her target was priest, cuckold, or rapist. Brown argues that listening for womens laughter can shed light on both the dramas of the street and those of the stage: plays from The Massacre of the Innocents to The Merry Wives of Windsor to The Womans Prize taught audiences the importance of gossips alliances as protection against slanderers, lechers, tyrants, and wife-beaters. Other jests, ballads, jigs, and plays show women reveling in tales of female roguery or scoffing at the perverse patience of Griselda. As Brown points out, some women found Griselda types annoying and even foolish: better be a shrew than a sheep. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780801488368

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