• David J. Amelang, "Playing Gender: Toward a Quantitative Comparison of Female Roles in Lope de Vega and Shakespeare" (Bulletin of the Comediantes 71.1-2, 2019), pp. 119-134

    David Amelang (see profile)
    Digital Humanists, Early Modern Theater, Renaissance / Early Modern Studies, Shakespeare, Spanish Golden Age Literature
    Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Gender and race in literature, Theatre history, Renaissance drama
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    One of the major differences between the otherwise very similar commercial theatrical cultures of early modern Spain and England was that, whereas in England female roles were performed by young, cross-dressed boys, in Spain female performers were prominent in their industry. indeed, actresses in Spain played an active role in the creative process of theater-making and could rise to lead their own acting companies and even write their own plays. With this distinction in mind, this article uses quantitative analysis to gauge how lope de vega and William Shakespeare-as contemporaries and leading dramatists of their respective countries-depicted female characters in their plays. A comparative measurement of the number of lines pronounced by female as opposed to male characters in the dramatic works of these two playwrights indicates a significant disparity between the two. this quantitative difference invites consideration of the presence-or lack thereof-of actresses in each of the two national theaters, with implications for the amount of speech, protagonism, and agency allocated to female characters in their respective plays.
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