Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: October ::
Re: Fops
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1869  Wednesday, 4 October 2000.

[1]     From:   Tony Burton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 3 Oct 2000 10:04:08 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1856 Re: Fops

[2]     From:   Edmund M. Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 03 Oct 2000 23:01:51 +0000
        Subj:   Fops

[3]     From:   Sophie Masson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Oct 2000 09:15:24 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1856 Re: Fops

[4]     From:   Patrick Buckridge <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 04 Oct 2000 17:24:57 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1849 Re: Fops


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tony Burton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 3 Oct 2000 10:04:08 -0400
Subject: 11.1856 Re: Fops
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1856 Re: Fops

Melissa Aaron's corrective observation about the different character to
be expected of foppish types in Shakespeare's time is right on target,
and I accept it.  The point of my last posting assumed a modern mistake,
based on modern associations between foppery and effeminacy that
generate the misguided "fag Osric" image to which I objected.  The
"deadly fop Osric" works quite well, although I'm not convinced that the
business of his plumed headgear or Latinate speech affectations requires
him to be a dandy, any more than Laertes, for instance, what with his
top-of-the-line French cutlery of finely balanced rapiers and poniards
and fanciful, liberal-conceited hangers.

Thanks, Melissa for making an important distinction.

Tony B.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund M. Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 03 Oct 2000 23:01:51 +0000
Subject:        Fops

The nature of Renaissance sexuality is a vexed (and vexing) question.
Melissa Aaron suggests that "gender markers" have changed over the years
and uses as an example Henri III's band of foppish cutthroats.  She may
be right, but consider Hotspur's account of the "popingay" in
1H4.1.3.29ff.  Hotspur seems to be ridiculing him for his over-refined
manners, but in reality, it is the popingay's lack of masculinity (as
defined by Hotspur) that is the issue.  Hotspur emphasizes the
popingay's use of "lady terms" and says he talks "so like a
waiting-gentlewoman" that it made young Percy mad.  Hotspur does say
that the popingay seemed 'fresh as a bridegroom," but even this
reference emphasizes his lack of male sexual experience.

This sounds just like the jocks I knew as a kid and their characteristic
contempt for men who appeared less "masculine" than they.

Maybe sexuality and sexual markers were different 400 years ago.
Certainly the argument has been made.  But it is by no means clear to me
that this argument is really true.  It may be a political argument
masquerading as a historical/scholarly thesis.  To get back to Melissa's
point: yes, Henri III retained a band of foppish, expert swordsmen.  But
isn't it true today that effeminate-acting men can be quite athletic and
heterosexual?  And isn't it also true that muscle-bound weightlifters
can be gay?

Is it that markers have changed? Or is it that, both then and now, such
markers were too often ill-fitting stereotypes that misled others?

--Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sophie Masson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Oct 2000 09:15:24 +1000
Subject: 11.1856 Re: Fops
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1856 Re: Fops

I think that's right. Henri de Valois (Henri III) was famous--and
infamous-- in France for all these traits but no one actually suggested
he was thus unable to reign or fight or even sire children-he just was
who he was. I think it is an interesting thing that in fact early-modern
and medieval people seemed much less hung up about sexuality than we
are, much freer in their relationships without being boringly
affirmative or whatever. It strikes me that naming everything for what
it supposedly is--and forcing people into narrow definitions--is much
more crippling to the erotic sense than just ignoring it and letting
people be who they are. You don't hear of people being bashed in
early-modern times for being homosexual, for instance. You might be
bashed for supporting the wrong lord, or failing to pay your bill, or
ruffling someone's feathers, but not for being a fop or gay. Or am I
making a mistake, here?

Mind you, the water that has passed under the bridge since then--the
Victorian age followed by narrow conventionality in the 20th cent, not
to speak of Freud, has, I guess, stymied possibilities of a return to an
earlier innocent freedom of sexuality(please don't all jump on me for
this one, I simply mean non-analytical). Which is why gay people feel
they must resort to the law and to becoming thoroughly conventional too.

Sophie.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Patrick Buckridge <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 04 Oct 2000 17:24:57 +1000
Subject: 11.1849 Re: Fops
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1849 Re: Fops

>I'm wondering whether Absolon, from Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale", would
>qualify, being overdressed and "somdeel squaymous" (3337-3338).

I wonder if Aegisthus, in the Oresteia trilogy of Aeschylus, is a
distant progenitor of the effeminate fop.  He's certainly referred to in
those terms several times by the Chorus in the first play, and again by
Orestes in the second. There's no suggestion that he's gay, and the
relationship with Clytemnestra would appear to rule that out anyway. The
wonderful Peter Hall production of the mid '80s gave him a kind of
prissy BBC voice which didn't particularly suit his strong and decisive
actions at the end of the first play, but that contradiction is inherent
in the text whichever way it's played.

Pat Buckridge
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.