Better a Shrew Than a Sheep: Women, Drama, and the Culture of Jest in Early Modern England
Pamela Allen BrownISBN: 0801488362;
Book DescriptionIn 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...
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