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Women's Writing in English

Women's Writing in English: Early Modern England

Patricia Demers
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 480
  • Book Info
    Women's Writing in English
    Book Description:

    This wide-ranging examination of the genres of early modern women's writing embraces translation in the fields of theological discourse, romance and classical tragedy, original meditations and prayers, letters and diaries, poetry, closet drama, advice manuals, and prophecies and polemics.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2737-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Studying Early Modern Women Writers
    (pp. 3-13)

    The exploration of the lives and writing of early modern women is a growth industry. Like all scholarly undertakings, it embraces an interlaced, criss-crossed network of actions and meanings, patterns of development and dissemination. It also continues to evolve – from excavations and, in most cases, exhumations to probing comparative analysis, from path-breaking anthologies to standard critical editions. This recovery-discovery project has generated a considerable amount of heat. Wrangles between New Historicists and feminists about the role of gender have given way to widespread recognition of the productivity of dissent, the articulation of contingency, and the multivalencies of gender itself. In...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Women in Early Modern England
    (pp. 14-62)

    What did it mean to be female in early modern England? Were there opportunities for women’s education and advancement? What connections existed between domestic realities and writing? What kind of voice or presence did women exert in the early modern cultural imaginary? This chapter undertakes to provide some answers to these questions by explaining the interconnected complexities of the ways women were described and defined, usually by men, and the glimpses of their actual lives and accomplishments, often in their own words. In understanding an age ‘passionate about words’¹ and their refractions of God, known as ‘the Word,’ it is...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The Genres of Early Modern Women’s Writing
    (pp. 63-194)

    The following overview is arranged first by genre, and then chronologically within each genre. The genre divisions allow not only for some cross-referencing but also for close concentration on individual genres; the chronological approach is intended to alert readers to the network of influences in which early modern women lived and wrote. I am not, however, proposing a grand teleological design or a meliorist march to seventeenth-century expressivity or liberation. On the contrary, close examination of specific genres reveals intricately braided relationships of texts, families, and cultural conventions.

    The decision to structure this overview as one large unit with many...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Six Major Authors
    (pp. 195-240)

    This chapter examines in detail the work of six authors as poets, dramatists (creators of comedy, tragedy, and tragi-comedy), and romantic fiction writers. As well as presenting a range of formats, from published, identified, vendible texts to privately circulated manuscripts, and a chorus of voices blending privately coded discourse and public manifestos, this grouping also illustrates filiations of sanguinity, literary inspiration, and artistic defence. Although a generation separates the Countess of Pembroke from her niece, Mary Wroth, and from Aemilia Lanyer, both younger women pay homage to her inspiring example. Margaret Cavendish defends Mary Wroth from a previous generation’s infamy....

  9. Postscript
    (pp. 241-242)

    Early modern Englishwomen’s writing introduces a vast range of work produced outside the world of court culture and patronage. While aware of the crucial role of the monarchy and the church in attempting to monitor and regularize religious practice, women’s writing discloses multiple perspectives along with an array of institutional sites. In their work, the household and the city are key environments, where the forces of politics, religion, and sexuality are imbricated.

    In the household, familial, literary, and temperamental loyalties coalesce. It is the site where Margaret Roper translates a treatise by a family friend, Erasmus, and where her daughter,...

  10. APPENDIX A Women and the Rise of Print Culture
    (pp. 243-245)
  11. APPENDIX B Chronologies
    (pp. 246-274)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 275-304)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 305-346)
  14. Index
    (pp. 347-363)