October 10, 2016 at 12:16 pm

Masterson Earns Scholarship, Heads to Folger Shakespeare Library

Kelly Masterson, doctoral student of English

Kelly Masterson, doctoral student of English

Kelly Masterson’s work on Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona took her to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., this summer.

A doctoral student of English, she was awarded a competitive scholarship from Ohio University’s English Department, one of eight to students who are conducting research for their respective dissertations and projects.

ABSTRACT: In May, I had the opportunity to travel to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., to conduct archival research for an in-progress article on 19th-century American productions of William Shakespeare’s play The Two Gentlemen of Verona. My research focuses on the play’s final scene, which contains, depending on the edition of the play, anything from the threat to the actualization of sexual violence against the main female character, Silvia.

Because stage representations of this violence vary so greatly over time and even between individual editions, the issues of sexual assault and gender-based violence have been problematic from the play’s first performance in the sixteenth century onward. In order to study how nineteenth-century American productions of the play represented the violence, I examined materials at the Folger dating between 1846 and 1899, ranging from several different acting editions of the play, to original correspondence between actors and directors relating to the play and performances, to a scrapbook of one of the nineteenth century’s most famous Shakespearean actors.

Examining these materials side by side was an incredibly exciting opportunity to further my research on stage representations of the violence, allowing me to chart the differences and similarities in the ways that various directors and actors handled and talked about the violence and to explore how these editions engaged with American cultural values, including masculinity, women’s modesty, and the visibility of sexual violence.


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