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University of Pittsburgh Stages 2021-2022 Season: Mainstage: Dramaturgy - Sources

Library resources relating to the productions of the University of Pittsburgh Stages 2021-2022 season

Source Materials - Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum

Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum is Emilia’s book of poetry (published 1611) AND the first ever book of original poetry published by a woman in England. During the Elizabethan Era, women were only allowed to publish “appropriate” topics for women, and one of these topics included religion. The majority of the work is a retelling of “The Passion of Christ” from the perspective of the women involved. She also includes a sneaky section in defense of Eve (from the Biblical story of Adam and Eve) that basically says, “stop blaming women for original sin!! Stop blaming women in general!!” Emilia champions female leaders of the past and of legend, slyly calls out patriarchal oppression, and encourages women to get educated and ask questions. My favorite part about this work is Emilia’s fierce campaign for the importance of consent! She addresses the importance of consent multiple times and presents it a power that all women possess.

Sometimes her scorn for men is outright, which should have prevented her book from being published. However, she justified her words by claiming they were sent to her in a dream from God. This was actually a pretty common defense in Elizabethan times and almost always worked because the claim couldn’t be disproven, and no one wanted to go against the will of God.

Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum is rife with advice for women and scorn for the patriarchy, but you have to read between the lines!

Megan Knorr, Emilia, dramaturg.

Source Materials - The Dark Lady Sonnets

Shakespeare’s Sonnets 127-152, addressed to a mysterious ‘Dark Lady’, whom many believe to be Emilia Bassano. In contrast to the more innocent Sonnets 1-126, Shakespeare’s Dark Lady Sonnets are full of heat. The poems describe Shakespeare’s brief affair with the ‘dark mistress’ with deep sexual energy. As the character Judith says in the play, this woman “clearly broke his heart,” and the poems quickly become scathing and spiteful.

The sonnets specifically referred to in Emilia are 128, 130, 131, and 147.

Megan Knorr, Emilia, dramaturg.

Guide Creator

Content for this page was contributed by Megan Knorr, Emilia, undergraduate dramaturg.