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The Best Man in the Play: Female Agency in a Gender-Inclusive Comedia

From: Bulletin of the Comediantes
Volume 59, Number 2, 2007
pp. 303-323 | 10.1353/boc.2007.0027



As an example of how a newly reformulated, gender-inclusive Comedia canon demands that we reevaluate earlier assumptions made about the male-authored canon, this study engages two examples of the popular comic convention of the crossed-dressed woman—Tirso de Molina's Don Gil de las calzas verdes and Ana Caro's Valor, agravio y mujer—in dialogue with one another. This comparative reading suggests problems in traditional Comedia scholarship, in which the female protagonist of male-authored popular comedy indicates a "pro-woman" authorial stance. Because this critical tradition's influence is still notable today, we may continue to profit from the opening-up of the canon by recognizing the voices of women writers as fundamentally different, by reconsidering the male canon as equally gender-inflected, and by revising earlier critical assumptions that the dramaturgas have revealed to be anachronistically progressive. (REB)

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