The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften: Events
Monday, 31 October 2011, 18:00
»große Salon« in the Villa Reimers
Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities
Holly Crocker (University of South Carolina)»The Reformation of Feminine Virtue from Chaucer to Shakespeare«
Holly A. Crocker (Professor of English, University of South Carolina)
rnSusanne Scholz (Professor of English Literature and Culture, Frankfurt University)
rnIn medieval and early modern English literature, the Trojan character Cressid is often an example of a »false« or inconstant woman: although she pledges her love to Troilus, son of the Trojan king Priam, she later becomes involved with the Greek warrior Diomedes after being traded to the Greek camp as a hostage. In this talk, I read Cressid's sullied literary history against the prescriptive discourse of feminine virtue from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries. As I argue, writers including Geoffrey Chaucer, Robert Henryson, and William Shakespeare demonstrate the problems of performative virtue that conduct books, marriage manuals, and exemplary catalogues elide or ignore in their renderings of notable women. Though Cressid becomes a lasting symbol of false virtue in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, her suffering reveals performativity's damaging influence over gender expectations for women during this transformative period.