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Bad Girls in Renaissance Drama

Anxiety about “bad girls” and rebellious women has a very long history. But what makes a woman “good” or “bad” in the first place? What is a “bad girl,” anyway? This course will examine dramatic representations of unruly, cruel, and otherwise nasty women as they appear in Renaissance English drama. We will consider the stubborn independence—and abusive “taming”—of Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew; the cross-dressing, hard-drinking, gutter-dwelling Moll Cutpurse in Middleton and Dekker’s The Roaring Girl; and the incestuous Annabella in Ford’s ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore. And, while we will focus on Renaissance texts, we will also ask what “bad girls” on the seventeenth-century stage can teach us about the performance of female rebelliousness today by regularly assessing their similarities and dissimilarities from present-day narratives, including Rihanna’s self-presentation as “Bad Gal Riri” and the tragicomic tales of incarcerated women in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black.