In this talk, Dr. Alicia Andrzejewski will bring together queer and feminist theory; performance studies; and archival research to address a conspicuous absence in queer readings of Shakespeare’s work: the pregnant body.
While early modern scholars tend to read representations of pregnancy as commensurate with heterosexual sex, desire, and partnership, Alicia focuses on one of Shakespeare’s early plays, Titus Andronicus, to argue that representations of pregnancy in Shakespeare’s canon still resist heteronormative structures that dictate what pregnancy should look like or how a pregnant person should act.
Tamora’s pregnant body is a “rude-growing briar,” whispered about in the margins of the play before producing a child that directly challenges the “white-limed walls” of Rome. In short, Shakespeare’s representations of quivering, quickening, and mixed-race children in Titus Andronicus continue to resist our own deep-seated ideologies about reproduction and, consequently, how we understand pregnancy, gender, conflict, and definitions of life.
Alicia Andrzejewski is an Assistant Professor in William & Mary’s English department. She is a scholar of early modern literature and culture; queer, feminist, and critical race theory; and the medical humanities. Her work has appeared in Shakespeare Studies, Shakespeare Bulletin, and the online publication Synapsis. Her current book project, Rude-Growing Briars: Queer Pregnancy in Shakespeare’s Plays, argues for the transgressive force of pregnancy in his oeuvre and the expansive ways in which early modern people thought about the pregnant body.