Malay, Jessica L. (2015) A review of "Staging Women and the Soul-Body Dynamic in Early Modern England" by Sarah E. Johnson Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014. Seventeenth Century News, 73 (1/2). pp. 26-29.

Johnson opens her discussion of the soul-body dynamic in early
modern England with a brief discussion of John Donne’s Why hath
the common opinion affoorded woemen Soules in order to introduce
the ambiguity surrounding the female soul. The early modern gendering
of the soul as masculine and the body as feminine along with
the Platonic view of the soul as the governor of the body produced a
gendered hierarchy which had implications for the representations of
women on stage. Johnson suggests that the “feminization of the soul
is wrapped up in male attempts to define or manage the very concept
of the soul” (16), and this contributed to composite representations
of women as bodies and spirits on stage. This exploration of the soulbody
dynamic through its Jacobean staging is intended to highlight
that “the gendered soul-body dynamic plays a role in representations of
and attitudes towards women beyond literature that engages explicitly
and centrally with this relationship” (20).

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