“Vested Interests” in Plautus' Casina: Cross-Dressing in Roman Comedy<sup>†</sup>

Barbara Gold

in Sex and Difference in Ancient Greece and Rome

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780748613199
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651016 | DOI:
“Vested Interests” in Plautus' Casina: Cross-Dressing in Roman Comedy†

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Cross-dressing is a focal point at which the concerns of many contemporary fields of inquiry converge: gender studies, performance theory, gay/lesbian/bisexual studies, psychoanalysis, linguistics, anthropology, film theory, theatre history and criticism, and feminism. In recent years, there has been intense interest in this subject, which calls into question the absolute binarism of male and female and highlights the potential biological, cultural, and psychological instabilities in the construction of gender. Countless stories and anecdotes told by those exploring this theatrical and extra-theatrical act reveal its richness, complexity, and importance. This chapter starts with two dressing stories, each of which questions gender as a stable term. It focuses on the issues that these stories raise: gender and cross-dressing; the ways in which Plautus's Casina explores and defines these areas of debate; and the ways in which Roman comedy defines the construction of gender in ways similar to Roman elegy.

Keywords: Plautus; Casina; cross-dressing; comedy; elegy; gender

Chapter.  7648 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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