Othello, feminist textual editing and early modern women's performance

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


This portfolio of critical works examines the early texts of Othello through in-depth textual editing and historicised, transnational performance analysis, excavating the effects of women’s performance on the practice of the English boy-actor. The portfolio comprises: 1.) Edited texts of the Quarto (1622) and Folio (1623) texts of Shakespeare’s Othello, in The Norton Complete Shakespeare 3rd Edition (W.W. Norton Ltd, 2015), gen. eds Stephen Greenblatt et. al. (print; online: https://digital.wwnorton.com/3013/r/goto/cfi/750!/4), 2073-2159. McManus edited Q and F, and wrote the textual introduction, textual variant notes and textual comments. 2.) Co-edited journal special issue: McManus and Lucy Munro (eds), Renaissance Women’s Performance and the Dramatic Canon, Shakespeare Bulletin 33:1 (2015), 1-128. Includes: a) peer-reviewed article: McManus ‘“Sing It Like Poor Barbary”: Othello and Early Modern Women’s Performance’, 99-120 (8,500 words); b) co-authored introduction: McManus and Munro, ‘Renaissance Women’s Performance and the Dramatic Canon: Theater History, Evidence, and Narratives’, 1-7; c) 6 articles and afterword. The edition edits each textual witness of Othello independently, deploying a feminist editorial methodology. This feminist approach to editing Shakespearean tragedy offers a significant intervention into the dramatic canon, revealing the workings of gender in early modern playtexts and their editorial mediations. McManus’s article extends the editorial analysis of Othello’s most significant textual variant, Desdemona’s Willow Song, revealing an unrecognised response to Italian singer-actresses by the English boy-actor. The special issue’s co-authored introduction contextualises McManus’s article, interrogating theatre history’s evidence base and periodisation, and its marginalisation of the effects of women’s theatricality. The full special issue intervenes further to examine how continental and English women’s performance affect the drama of the English commercial playing companies. It brings together paradigm-shifting research by 8 scholars (Stokes’s article won the Barbara Palmer Award, 2016).
Original languageEnglish
PublisherJohns Hopkins University Press
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

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