Chapter

“Changed … into the Fashion of Man” The Politics of Sexual Difference in a Seventeenth-Century Anglo-American Settlement

Kathleen M. Brown

in The Devil's Lane

Published in print June 1997 | ISBN: 9780195112436
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854271 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195112436.003.0004
“Changed … into the Fashion of Man” The Politics of Sexual Difference in a Seventeenth-Century Anglo-American Settlement

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This chapter discusses the gender identity of Thomas Hall and how it stirred controversy among the residents of Warraskoyack, Virginia, a small English settlement. It explains that Hall's case presents a nonetheless richly detailed glimpse of an early modern community's response to gender transgression, exposing to view a multiplicity of popular beliefs about sexual difference and the variety of uses to which they could be put by groups of people with different stakes in the social order. The Hall case not only provides documentary evidence of maleness and femaleness, but offers an opportunity to reconstruct what people might call “beliefs-in-action.” Hall's case also offers a unique chance to compare popular concepts of sexual difference. The chapter discusses how Hall was denied the right to choose a single identity—a marked departure from the usual European treatment of hermaphrodites.

Keywords: sexual difference; 17th century; Anglo-American; Thomas Hall; Warraskoyack; gender transgression; hermaphrodite; maleness; femaleness; beliefs-in-action

Chapter.  9047 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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