A Man? A Woman? A Lesbian? A Whore?: Queen Elizabeth I and the Cinematic Subversion of Gender

Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)


Queen Elizabeth I of England seems to suffer from an identity crisis in historical films. This crisis stems from the inability of filmmakers to come to a consensus on a characterization of England’s most depicted monarch. Should they portray her as the (in)famous Virgin Queen? Should she rule like a man? Should she suffer from the ‘weakness’ of the female sex? Should she control the men who surround her? All of these questions are answered—in a variety of successful and unsuccessful ways—in historical films that feature Elizabeth. This muddled depiction, however, has resulted in the Queen’s gender being both at the fore of her characterization, and also completely subverted, in order to present the Elizabeth known to popular culture.



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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Study of the RenaissanceThe University of WarwickCoventryUK

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