Early Modern drama, particularly that of Thomas Middleton, John Webster, and Ben Jonson, reveal the importance of property law in England in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Their treatment of property law not only reflects and comments on the changes in property law and contract law of the period, but, in many surprising ways, it also anticipates our twentieth- and twenty-first-century discussions of property law as it pertains to property in the person. In much the same way that Early Modern persons debated the limitations and moral implications of private property, we today struggle to understand the limitations and moral implications of property in our bodies. Although these issues have universal importance, they are particularly relevant to women because women, from the early days of the sixteenth century through our contemporary period, have been and continue to be denied rights to property in one way or another.
This dissertation explores the drama through the lenses of Early Modern English law, contemporary Western law, feminist philosophy, and literary analysis, and an examination of the plays reveals that women have a property interest in reproductive labor such as gestation, child labor, and child birth. These property interests are relevant to contracts regarding reproductive technologies, paternity law, and doctrines of informed consent, and they also provide a more robust set of rights that protect women from over-reaching state action.
|Advisor:||Rowe, George E.|
|Commitee:||Freinkel, Lisa M., Laskaya, Anne, McGowen, Randall|
|School:||University of Oregon|
|School Location:||United States -- Oregon|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Law, Womens studies, British and Irish literature|
|Keywords:||Child labor, Contract law, Drama, Early modern drama, Feminist, Property|
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