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Author: Katarzyna Bronk

Despite the persistent, though not monolithic, anti-prostitution policies of the church officials (of whichever denomination), the practise of commercialized sex never disappeared from the streets of civilized countries. With diverse definitions of the illegal act itself, secular and religious authorities struggled with effective identification, localization, prosecution and stigmatization of prostitutes. Since the early Middle Ages non-fictional literary texts - secular and canon law - have presented an intensified campaign against ‘common women’, brothels and, less often, their clients. Ideally, the grave legal tone of codices, threatening with jail and eternal damnation, was to be a sufficient determent against prostitution. To prove that this method of prevention was simply wishful thinking one should only turn to English late seventeenth-century literature. In the licentious atmosphere of English Restoration, the reigns of Charles II and James II, commercialized sexual practises become part and parcel of the ongoing carnivalesque spirit. In spite of virulent criticism of prostitutes in Christian homilies and more secular conduct books, the ominous presence of a courtesan or an urban whore in popular literature and Restoration comedies becomes a commonplace. Even though the prostitute or generally a promiscuous woman is rarely allowed the final triumph, her presence in the plot is an almost obligatory leitmotif. Analyzing two Restoration texts, the anonymous The Whore’s Rhetorick (1683) and John Garfield’s Wandering Whore: A Dialogue (1660-1661), the paper is to present a comic venture into the life of Restoration high-flyers to show the methods and aims of a literary exposure of the (w)hor(r)ific woman

In: Illuminating the Dark Side: Evil, Women and the Feminine
Author: Katarzyna Bronk

Despite the persistent, though not monolithic, anti-prostitution policies of the church officials (of whichever denomination), the practise of commercialized sex never disappeared from the streets of civilized countries. With diverse definitions of the illegal act itself, secular and religious authorities struggled with effective identification, localization, prosecution and stigmatization of prostitutes. Since the early Middle Ages non-fictional literary texts - secular and canon law - have presented an intensified campaign against ‘common women’, brothels and, less often, their clients. Ideally, the grave legal tone of codices, threatening with jail and eternal damnation, was to be a sufficient determent against prostitution. To prove that this method of prevention was simply wishful thinking one should only turn to English late seventeenth-century literature. In the licentious atmosphere of English Restoration, the reigns of Charles II and James II, commercialized sexual practises become part and parcel of the ongoing carnivalesque spirit. In spite of virulent criticism of prostitutes in Christian homilies and more secular conduct books, the ominous presence of a courtesan or an urban whore in popular literature and Restoration comedies becomes a commonplace. Even though the prostitute or generally a promiscuous woman is rarely allowed the final triumph, her presence in the plot is an almost obligatory leitmotif. Analyzing two Restoration texts, the anonymous The Whore’s Rhetorick (1683) and John Garfield’s Wandering Whore: A Dialogue (1660-1661), the paper is to present a comic venture into the life of Restoration high-flyers to show the methods and aims of a literary exposure of the (w)hor(r)ific woman

In: Illuminating the Dark Side: Evil, Women and the Feminine
Author: Katarzyna Bronk

English histrionics indicates that around 1660s London held its breath in anticipation. The theatre underworld revealed its newest creation – an actress. Restoration audience, craving entertainment, seemed not surprised. After all, it was common knowledge that women were perfect dissimulators. Others, particularly male impersonators – cross-dressers like Edward Kynaston – lost their celebrity status and were seen as freaks. The stage war that such male performers of femininity initiated resulted in an almost immediate reiteration of medieval misogyny and vituperative ostracism of any woman who dared to challenge masculine reign on the English stage. The actresses eventually became seen as sexualized objects of desire, which aligned her with the prostitute. Although the formal introduction of actresses was supposed to facilitate ‘useful and instructive representations of human life, and help to distinguish dramatic performance from mediocre delights, it soon reified women as sexual objects to be visually consumed by the male members of the audience. The appearance of the first successful actresses (often trained by theatre managers or playwrights themselves) triggered discussions on femininity, gender/sex representations, cross-dressing and morality of public exposure of female bodies. Utilizing scriptural, homiletic and moralistic discourse, this chapter aims to present a link between medieval anxiety of femininity and the seemingly privileging and enfranchising introduction of the actress. It will focus on the (sexual) monstrosity of the first women on English stages and expose the methods of ideological taming of the new theatrical ‘creation’, to prove that the royal/formal inclusion of female performers – letting them into masculine public sphere – significantly enforced seventeenth-century anti-feminist discourse concerning the nature of women.

In: The Evil Body
In: Stardom: Discussions on Fame and Celebrity Culture
Author: Katarzyna Bronk

Around 1660s Charles II formally allowed for public performances of women on English stages. Restoration audiences, craving entertainment after the enforced closure of theatres during the Puritan Interregnum, rejoiced. Others, particularly the successful male impersonators of women, were shocked and annoyed as they suddenly lost their celebrity status and were seen as freaks. The stage war that the appearance of actresses initiated resulted in an almost immediate reiteration of almost medieval misogyny and vituperative ostracism directed at any woman who dared to challenge the masculine reign on the English stage. The actresses themselves had to learn both how to act out femininity as seen through male playwrights’ eyes and how to maintain their celebrity status and the audiences’ adoration. This, however, meant more than ‘just’ displaying perfect acting skills and appearing in the best plays available. A successful actress needed to woo the audience, particularly its male members, with her body, or her sexuality in general. She likewise needed to accept, or even engender, vitriolic attacks on her reputation in public discourse and, if possible, utilise such bad publicity to her own advantage. As such, this chapter aims to present a link between medieval anxiety concerning public displays of femininity and the seemingly privileging introduction of the actress in the late seventeenth-century England. It will also present a synthetic image of celebrated actresses’ lives as seen through theatrical records as well as seventeenth-century pamphlets and poetry, proving true the contemporary saying that only lack of press is bad press.

In: Stardom: Discussions on Fame and Celebrity Culture
Editor: Katarzyna Bronk
This volume was first published by Inter-Disciplinary Press in 2012.

Celebrity culture has received serious scholarly attention in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. As the concepts of fame, stardom, and popularity are no longer of interest to tabloids only, the phenomenon of celebrity has been studied, among others, by historians, literary critics, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, philosophers and economists. Scholars included in this volume discuss the various shades of fame and celebrity-hood from historical, sociological and theoretical perspectives. Stardom: Discussions on Fame and Celebrity Culture critically comment on the ways of producing and consuming fame, the cult of personality (deserved or underserved) and the question of gender in celebrity culture. Ultimately the post-conference volume attempts to answer the fundamental question of what constitutes and entails being a ‘celebrity.’
The Concept of Authenticity in Celebrity and Fan Studies
Questioning what “makes” a celebrity and how celebrity is controlled, dispersed and received are aspects branching out of (Extra)Ordinary’s debate over celebrities as ordinary/extraordinary. Jade Alexander and Katarzyna Bronk, together with the authors whose chapters make up this inter-disciplinary discussion, not only utilise the existing research on celebrity and fandom, but they also go beyond the often-quoted theorists to engage in multidirectional analyses of what it means to be a celebrity, and what influence they have on the consuming public. The present book provides an avenue for exploring not just what celebrity is as a discursive construction, but also how this involves a complex interplay between celebrities, the media and the audience.
In: (Extra)Ordinary?
In: (Extra)Ordinary?
In: (Extra)Ordinary?