Early Modern: Cross-Dressing in Early Modern England

Jonathan Dollimore

in Sexual Dissidence

Published in print August 1991 | ISBN: 9780198112259
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670732 | DOI:
Early Modern: Cross-Dressing in Early Modern England

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Humanist transgression in the name of authenticity has never been able to comprehend the kind of transgression peformed in the name of inversion, perversion, and reinscription. ‘Inversion’ could signify reversal of position and/or reversal of direction, both being inimical to effective government and social control. So it is worth recalling at the outset of this discussion that it is in these senses that the female cross-dresser of early 17th-century England could be described as an ‘invert’ or ‘pervert’. One might also usefully recall that to cross is not only to traverse, but to mix and to contradict; also that cross-dressing potentially involves both inversion and displacement of gender binaries. The controversy over dress was no less complex than the social shifts which provoked it.

Keywords: humanist transgression; inversion; perversion; cross-dressing; displacement; dress; England; reinscription; authenticity

Chapter.  10134 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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