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This volume of twelve original essays is the first comprehensive study of feminist issues in Restoration drama. The late seventeenth century marks a pivotal era in the history of feminism, when Renaissance assumptions about gender and patriarchy were being directly challenged. For the first time, women appeared onstage as actresses, made their presence felt as spectators and patrons, and wrote a number of the plays produced in theaters. Ina n unusually direct and probing way, drama of the Restoration period raised radical questions about the place of women in the family and in society, and about the essential nature of men and women. The essays examine feminist issues from a variety of historical and theoretical approaches across a spectrum of plays—comedies, tragedies, tragicomedies, and heroic drama. By addressing the acute questions of gender raised in the drama, Broken Boundaries presents a vivid portrait of the uncertainties and changing perceptions in all areas of intellectual, political, and social life during the last decades of the seventeenth century.

A welcome collection of scholarly essays and fascinating illustrations that will surely enrich our understanding of late seventeenth-century theater. -- 1650-1850

Charts the way in which constructions of femininity in the late seventeenth century are reflected in and shaped by Restoration drama. -- British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies

An important addition to collections of feminist literary criticism and Restoration cultural studies. -- Choice

An interesting and diverse range of articles that not only cover a variety of topics but are also written from several differing critical standpoints. -- Eighteenth Century

The essays in this volume include work by established scholars in the field who take a variety of positions regarding Restoration drama, all providing a perspective on the relationship between gender and the stage in the period. -- English Studies in Canada

The first collection devoted entirely to this subject. -- Year's Work in English Studies

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Feminism, Restoration Drama, Feminism and literature, Women and literature, Gender identity in literature


Katherine M. Quinsey was the editor.

Broken Boundaries: Women and Feminism in Restoration Drama
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