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The Lady Vanishes
Fantasies of Female Heroism in Shakespeare’s Last Plays
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The subject of The Lady Vanishes is the construction and meaning of the heroine in Shakespeare’s last plays. It reads the unique and feminine rescue fantasies at the heart of Shakespearean tragicomedy as an alternative and corrective to the origins of tragedy in the world of men. The book situates the plays in the cultural and historical context in which they were written. It argues that the maternal narrative between a mother and daughter is the great (almost) unwritten story.
Part I. The Lady Vanishes
1. The Construction of the Tragicomic Heroine
2. Pericles and the Mirror of Heroism
3. “Kings, queens, and states, Maids, matrons, nay, the secrets of the grave….”: Imogen’s Circuitous Heroism
4. Told-twice Tales and The Winter’s Tale
5. The Tempest: A Man Looks at Motherhood
Part II. The De-Construction of the Tragicomic Heroine: Shakespeare and Fletcher
6. Henry VIII or All is True
7. Two Noble Kinsmenand their Kinswomen
“The Lady Vanishes is a mind-bending delight! In exploring the relevance of female heroes in Shakespeare’s last plays, Prof. de Vroom is undaunted by complex text and paradox. Her keen and tender vision unlocks a host of historical, dramatic, and literary treasures. I was moved and exhilarated by the originality and intellectual force of this book.”
--BETH HENLEY, President’s Professor of Theatre, Loyola Marymount University, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama
“This is a remarkable book, sweeping and generous in its analytic embrace, thoughtful and incisive in its observations. It will make a difference in the way we think about women, heroes, and women who are heroes, in real life, fiction, drama, in modern and early modern incarnations alike.”
--NAOMI CONN LIEBLER, Professor of English and University Distinguished Scholar, Montclair State University
“From Hitchcock to Shakespeare, Prof. de Vroom explores feminine power and identity, the complex nature of what it means to be a woman, and the relationship between women; young and old, mothers and daughters, sisters, rivals. As a photographer known for my portraits of women, I found her erudite analysis of the tragicomic heroine fascinating and enlightening. Prof. de Vroom shines a new light on the broader theme of ‘woman.’”
--JUDY DATER, Photographer
“Theresia de Vroom’s brilliant vision has brought to light a profound core in Shakespeare’s oeuvre. Exposing a narrative quiet too long, de Vroom releases the Shakespearean heroine with superb reasoning in a manuscript with implications reaching throughout literature. This is The Da Vinci Code of scholarly work, beautifully written, and more important today than ever.”
--AMANDA GREEN, Writer, editor, artist, and academic
“This is a fascinating exploration of the need to construct womanhood, in whatever fashion, as a reflection of social codes and ultimately as a social barometer. The Lady Vanishes hits a lovely spot, blending scholarly erudition with cultural eclecticism, illuminating the preoccupations of the present day with a deep understanding of early modern womanhood.”
--PHILIPPA KELLY, author of The King and I Dramaturg in Residence, California Shakespeare Theater
Theresia de Vroomis Professor of English and Director of the Marymount Institute for Faith, Culture and the Arts at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. She has edited and translated the medieval Netherlandic plays of the Hulthelm MS and was the editor and compiler for In Possession of Shakespeare: Writing Into Nothing. She has written articles on medieval women mystics, beast epics, medieval and Renaissance drama and poetry. In 1998 she was the recipient of the Lois P. and Donald H. Graves Award for Excellence in Teaching.
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