Monday, November 14, 2016

Christopher's Annotated Bibliography (1)

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My research paper, tentatively entitled "Being a Bastard is a Drag" uses formal elements in King Lear and a variety of modern sources and adaptations in order to explore the ambiguous sexuality of Edmund of Gloucester. Along with direct adaptations of the play, I'm also planning on using the theories of Sigmund Freud and Judith Butler to shed light on Edmund's characterization. My thesis statement as of now is:
"Edmund of Gloucester’s overall ambivalence towards sexual love and his subversion of the normal chivalric romance, lends the illegitimate son of Gloucester a deviant quality which allows him to transcend the strictures of Elizabethan drama in his modern portrayals as an effeminate and even homosexual character."
Below are some of the scholarly and media sources I plan on using. In my next blogpost I will be citing my performance and social sources.
Scholarly Sources
Butler, Judith, and Gender Trouble. "Feminism and the Subversion of Identity." New York: Roudledge (1990). In her seminal essay on gender politics, Butler discusses gender as a form of performance or "drag" which can be sued to subvert normality. Butler's conception of "drag" can be used in my essay to defend the claim that Edmund's sexuality is a subversion of norms and that he uses it more as a political tool than a means for obtaining the love of a woman.
Delany, Paul. “King Lear and the Decline of Feudalism.” PMLA, vol. 92, no. 3, 1977, pp. 429–440. By positioning King Lear in a transitional period between feudalism and a more commercial aristocratic state, Delany suggests Edmund is part of the collapse of the feudal state represented by King Lear. This is critical to my paper in that it gives a historical context for Edmund's nonconformity.
Freud, Sigmund. "Certain neurotic mechanisms in jealousy, paranoia and homosexuality." The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 4 (1923): 1. This seminal essay on homosexuality traces the root cause of homosexuality to a narcissism predicated in childhood by over-indulgent mothers. The connection between homosexuality and narcissism may be important to understanding Edmund's deviancy and the link between his will to power and his sexuality.

McNeir, Waldo F. "The Role of Edmund in King Lear." Studies in English Literature, 1500-19008, no. 2 (1968): 187-216.   In his article on Edmund of Gloucester, McNeir asserts that because Edmund is sexually passive, he operates outside of the heavily sexual world of Lear and his daughters.  This article forms the basis of much of the scholarly discussion around the character of Edmund and also contain a discussion of his deviant sexuality.
Media Sources
Hinds, Gareth. King Lear. Somerville: Candlewick, 2009. Print.  Hind’s graphic novel reimagines Shakespeare’s play while retaining most of the original text.  His graphic novelization of the play is key to my paper in that it frames Edmund of Gloucester as both effeminate and disinterested in the sexual advances of Goneril.
MacGillivray, Ben. "King Lear Act V." Emaze. Emaze, n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.  In a presentation about the sibling dynamics of Edgar and Edmund in Act V of King Lear, MacGillivray illustrates the stark contrast between brothers in modern-day portraiture.  This image is valuable since it presents Edmund as having more feminine features compared to his rugged, faithful brother Edgar.


  1. Your thesis is hard to follow. I'm unsure what you mean by deviance or transcending. Be sure you acknowledge alternate points of view in interpreting Edmund and that you qualify your sexual interpretations. For some, it may seem quite a stretch to go from an effeminate portrayal to claims about his sexual identity -- especially in the face of his very masculine rhetoric and actions. Use caution in applying contemporary concepts historically (such as sexual deviance). Also, Freud's views are well known but highly contested. (Plus, there are already many sources that connect Freud and Shakespeare). The Butler and McNeir sources seem to be quite contradictory. It will be interesting to see how you use/reconcile them.

  2. Okay, I love your title. If this was at the English symposium - I would definitely stick around to listen to it.