'She’s the Man!’: Transnational Tranvestisms from Italy’s commedia dell’arte divas to Shakespeare’s boy actors

When and Where

Thursday, February 11, 2021 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Online via Zoom - see event description for further information.


Rosalind Kerr (Goggio Visiting Professor)


My Goggio lecture today explores the transnational effects that the commedia dell’arte transvestite heroine role had on the all-male Shakespearean stage. The Italian actresses through their great personal appeal and technical mastery were empowered to create unforgettable female characters who became part of the western dramatic canon.  They also became famous for taking on the transvestite heroine roles that had been created first in the erudite Italian theatre where young male actors played these roles. As cultural icons, their influence was felt not only across the continent but also on the English stage, which borrowed heavily from Italian dramatic and performance models, even though they continued to exclude actresses from the professional stage until the 1660s.  Some of the transnational effects that the Italian female transvestite stage had in modelling the creation of unforgettable female characters on the English stage will be explored to show how transvestite practices on both sides of the continent influenced the creation of female characters such as Viola, Rosalind, Portia, Ophelia, and others.

To attend this lecture, please RSVP to italian.studies@utoronto.ca with your name, lecture date, and lecture title .  You will receive an email one day before the event containing access information to the lecture and other event details.

All times stated in Eastern Time.

Contact Information


Emilio Goggio Chair in Italian Studies - University of Toronto