Much scholarship in early modern studies has addressed the female-to-male (FTM) crossdresser and the boy actor who would perform feminine roles on the early modern stage (and often these were one and the same—the boy actor played the part of a woman who crossdressed as a man). Until recently there has been a dearth of historical and theoretical scholarship on “the question of men dressed as and passing for women in literary representations” (2). In Male-to-Female Crossdressing in Early Modern English Literature: Gender, Performance, and Queer Relations, Simone Chess investigates the role of male-to-female (MTF) crossdressers in early modern literature, asking, “How might thinking about MTF crossdressing, in particular, contribute to our understanding of early modern sex, gender, and sexuality?” (2).

In asking this question, Chess makes an important intervention in early modern scholarship in three ways. First, Chess invites “MTF...

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