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date: 26 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Spectres of historical queens in several of Shakespeare’s plays recall the political importance not only of queens themselves, but of the vexed issue of sovereignty as it was gendered in early modern political thought. Representations of and allusions to Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots in Henry V, Henry VIII, and The Winter’s Tale expose the strategies through which actual queens as well as their supporters authorized and defended early modern female sovereignty. At the same time, because female sovereignty rests on the connection between the female body and the political body, definitions of female sovereignty remain unstable, capable of both reinforcing and disrupting the connection. When Shakespeare creates his historical and fictional queens, he raises their spectres as untimely versions of female sovereignty as well as the uncanny role of the female body in representing time itself.

Keywords: Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, uncanny, spectre, Henry VIII, The Winter’s Tale, Henry V, female sovereignty

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