Hannah Cotterill profile

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Hannah Cotterill

Royal Holloway University of London (2023)


Dr Harry Newman, Dr Deana Rankin


Milk to Gall: Representations of Angry Women on Page and Stage


This project, in five chapters, explores the question: how did early-moderns perceive female anger; did it originate in the gendered body, in personal agency, or could it be manipulated by the external intervention of demons? The first two chapters will be a historical study: examining medical conceptualisations of anger, choler (the humour linked to wrath) and gender; then stereotypes of angry women in popular culture, focusing on the ‘shrew-taming’ narrative in pamphlets and plays. The final three chapters will analyse plays from Elizabethan-Jacobean dramatists: Shakespeare, Middleton, Heywood, Ford, Dekker, Rowley, alongside female dramatists Cary and Sidney Herbert, comparing portrayals of female anger from different gendered perspectives. These chapters will examine dramatic representations of angry women (including the angry/choleric witch, the performativity of female anger, and contagious emotional disorder) to gain a wider view on how Galenic (humoral) medicine engages with discourse around female power. There is need for this research as my interdisciplinary lens explores links between demonology, humoralism (which currently focuses more on female melancholy than choler) and gender studies, commonly studied separately. Through this, I will contribute to a wider transhistorical endeavour uncovering how women’s bodies have been written within, and against, patriarchal discourse, whilst also making timely contributions to a growing field: the history of emotions.