Genre and Women's Life Writing in Early Modern England by Michelle M. Dowd

By Michelle M. Dowd

Through taking account of the ways that early glossy ladies made use of formal and customary buildings to represent themselves in writing, the essays gathered the following interrogate the discursive contours of gendered identification in 16th- and seventeenth-century England. The participants discover how general selection, combination, and revision impression narrative buildings of the feminine self in early smooth England. jointly they situate women's lifestyles writings in the broader textual tradition of early smooth England whereas conserving a spotlight at the specific rhetorical units and narrative buildings that include person texts. Reconsidering women's lifestyles writing in gentle of modern serious tendencies - such a lot particularly ancient formalism - this quantity produces either new readings of early sleek texts (such as Margaret Cavendish's autobiography and the diary of Anne Clifford) and a brand new realizing of the complicated relationships among literary varieties and early sleek women's 'selves'. This quantity engages with new severe the way to make leading edge connections among canonical and non-canonical writing; in so doing, it is helping to form the way forward for scholarship on early sleek ladies.

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168–9) As the beginning of this extract reminds us, a letter is a supremely social mode of writing—it offers a better sort of “company” than was available in Stuart’s immediate surroundings and releases her from “tedious conversation” into a more interesting kind of dialogue. However, her dissatisfaction with their correspondence emphasizes once again the choices available to a letter-writer. Sir Henry has been responding in the manner of a courtier—brief and “peremptory”— whereas Lady Arbella writes at length and in a “scribling” style, an adjective linking rhetorical manner with both physical handwriting and state of mind.

See Nussbaum on the “autobiographical subject,” as well as accounts of the “self” in (among others) Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989) and Rewriting the Self: Histories from the Renaissance to the Present, ed. Roy Porter (London: Routledge, 1997). For an earlier account of women and “masks,” see Joan Riviere, “Womanliness as Masquerade,” Formations of Fantasy, ed. Victor Burgin, James Donald, and Cora Kaplan (London: Methuen, 1986) pp.

2 It is well to remember, too, as a starting premise, that a good portion of the texts published in the seventeenth century, by both men and women, were read initially as manuscript texts and subsequently published posthumously. Sometimes this was done by friends or relatives of the deceased, such as the 1720 memoir of Elizabeth Bury created by her husband; other times publication of manuscript material served as a testimonial from a generation or so later, such as the Rev. Julius Hutchinson’s 1806 publication of Lucy Hutchinson’s biography of her husband including the fragment of her life; finally, still other examples first saw print in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as Ann Fanshawe’s memoirs, recovered by antiquarians and academics as valuable historical documents.

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