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'Poor senseless Bess, clothed in her rags and folly': Early modern women, madness and song in seventeenth-century England.

MacKinnon, Dolly (2001) 'Poor senseless Bess, clothed in her rags and folly': Early modern women, madness and song in seventeenth-century England. Parergon, 18(3), pp. 119-151.

Abstract

Much has been written on the state of early modern women's lives. Much has been written about madness, and much has been written about English music. But rarely are these three elements considered together. This article discusses the intersection of these three areas in the social context of seventeenth-century London, by focusing on a song by Henry Purcell (1659-1695) entitled 'Bess of Bedlam', and also known as 'From silent shades' published in 1683. 'Bess' was the first mad song composed by Purcell and was not written for a specific theatre work, as was the case with his later commissioned songs. My aim is to show how this particular song, as well as the ballad/poem ' Mad maudlin' from which it drew inspiration, reflects contemporary societal attitudes, which readily linked women and madness.

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ID Code: 243
Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Parergon is the journal of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. See web site for more information.
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Early modern England, Women, Henry Purcell, Songs, History Mental illness, Madness, Sex, Sex role, Theatre, Bess of Bedlam, Restoration London
ISSN: 1832-8334
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400) > Performing Arts and Creative Writing not elsewhere classified (190499)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > CULTURAL STUDIES (200200)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY (210000) > HISTORICAL STUDIES (210300) > British History (210305)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Deposited On: 02 Jul 2004
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 22:21

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