'Unwholesome Reversions': Contagion as Dramaturgy in The Dutch Courtesan


  • Noam Lior University of Toronto




disease; contagion; Dutch Courtesan


Karen Britland argues that The Dutch Courtesan uses contagion not only in its literal invocation of disease but also as a conceptual framework. The proximity of episodes invites an audience to read across plots so that seemingly separate threads become metaphorically cross-contaminated, providing tacit counter-narratives and refutations. This paper examines some of the conceptual contaminations presented by the play, moving from its consideration of venereal disease and human migration to the ways in which the emotional pain inflicted on its more liminal characters – Beatrice and Mulligrub – can be read as contaminating the positive narratives put forth by Freevill and Cocledemoy.

Author Biography

Noam Lior, University of Toronto

Noam Lior (noam.lior@utoronto.ca) is a co-founder and production dramaturge for Shakespeare at Play (www.shakespeareatplay.ca), and recently completed his PhD at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies. Noam was part of the planning team for the 2019 Dutch Courtesan project, and directed the Toronto production of the play.





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