Date of Award
Analyzing the language of a 1699 matelotage contract and locating that same terminology in Shakespeare’s maritime plays, this essay argues that there is a thematic and genealogical link between the contractual forms of homosocial union that existed during the premodern and early modern periods and the bonds shared by male characters in those plays where a “sea change” occurs. First, the essay delineates a history of matelotage and of contractual bonds; then, it establishes this homosocial dynamic as an additional point of inquiry for male relationships in Shakespeare. Critical attention has largely overlooked this queer contract, and prioritized a focus on the nature of male friendships and sworn brotherhood. This essay turns the tide of that debate by focusing on Shakespeare’s “sea changed” men and non-heteronormative behavior occurring within completely lawful frameworks of contractual bindings.
Palumbo, Agnese, "Bound to a Mast: Matelotage and the Queer Contract in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and The Tempest" (2023). Comparative Literature M.A. Essays. 13.
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