Skip to content Skip to navigation

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare)

16th century English play in which one subplot involves a close female friendship disrupted by the shifting desires of the men they love.

LHMP entry

Jankowski examines Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale—and particularly the question of just where Hermione might have been hidden by Paulina during the period when she is presumed dead, and what they were doing there—to challenge traditional assumptions about the presence and extent of f/f eroticism in his plays, following themes of invisibility and hidden spaces. She takes as a premise that there “must have been women who desired other women and had erotic and/or sexual relations with them” in the early modern period and therefore looks among Shakespeare’s characters to find them.

Traub claims the title of this article is a “bait and switch” as she follows Halperin in treating “homosexuality” as such as only existing in the last 100 years, with “the lesbian” as an even more recent discursive invention.

This article forms the core of Traub’s 2002 book by the same name, covered in entry #69. However summarizing this original article will provide a different angle and different details than I picked up from that previous entry.

Crawford tackles the intriguing topic of women in 16-17th century England serving as secretaries--both in official and de facto positions--especially in service to other women. She particularly looks at the function of a secretary as an advisor and secret-keeper.

This chapter focuses on the creation of homoerotic tension in a more asymmetric aggressive context, especially those involving a older experienced woman seducing a younger innocent, including those where the seduction (or assault) is triangulated around a male character that one or both women have a connection to. This motif stands in contrast to more idealized, egalitarian relationships such as those in Shakespeare’s As You Like It or A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Lyly’s Gallathea.

Like many articles of this era, Bruster begins by explaining that (and why) there is a dearth of academic investigation into the topic of female homoeroticism in [insert topic here]. He asserts that prior work has focused on affirmative and subversive portrayals of female homoeroticism, resulting in an incomplete and idealized picture. So he’s going to be iconoclastic and look at less positive portrayals of female-female eroticism on the stage.

Subscribe to A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare)