The Marvel of Peru

Marjorie Garber

in Loaded Words

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242047
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823242085 | DOI:
The Marvel of Peru

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In the adventures of the Lieutenant Nun Doña Catalina de Erauso, who cross-dressed her way out of a Spanish convent and into the New World, what we read, what we find, is a version of ourselves. When, acting as a “second” for a friend whose honor has been insulted, Catalina de Erauso kills her brother unknowingly and inadvertently, it seems possible to see her as a version of Willam Shakespeare's Viola in Twelfth Night, stepping into the shoes—and the clothing—of the brother she believes is dead. In England, the Puritan pamphleteer William Prynne was one of many who inveighed against cross-dressing on the stage as a transgression sure to produce immoral desire. The book Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety describes the literary and cultural phenomenon known as a “category crisis” and a related manifestation called the “transvestite effect.” A study of female transvestism in early modern Europe by Dutch scholars Rudolf Dekker and Lotte van der Pol records the stage popularity of plays about “the Spaniard Catalina de Erauso and the Englishwoman Mary Frith.”

Keywords: cross-dressing; Catalina de Erauso; New World; Willam Shakespeare; Twelfth Night; William Prynne; category crisis; transvestite effect; transvestism

Chapter.  5095 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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