An important contribution to growing scholarship on women's participation in literary cultures, this essay collection concentrates on cross-national communities of letters to offer a comparative and international approach to early modern women's writing. The essays gathered here focus on multiple literatures from several countries, ranging from Italy and France to the Low Countries and England. Individual essays investigate women in diverse social classes and life stages, ranging from siblings and mothers to nuns to celebrated writers; the collection overall is invested in crossing geographic, linguistic, political, and religious borders and exploring familial, political, and religious communities. Taken together, these essays offer fresh ways of reading early modern women's writing that consider such issues as the changing cultural geographies of the early modern world, women's bilingualism and multilingualism, and women's sense of identity mediated by local, regional, national, and transnational affiliations and conflicts.
Women and Epistolary Agency in Early Modern Culture, 1450–1690 is the first collection to examine the gendered nature of women’s letter-writing in England and Ireland from the late-fifteenth century through to the Restoration. The essays collected here represent an important body of new work by a group of international scholars who together look to reorient the study of women’s letters in the contexts of early modern culture. The volume builds upon recent approaches to the letter, both rhetorical and material, that have the power to transform the ways in which we understand, study and situate early modern women’s letter-writing, challenging misconceptions of women’s letters as intrinsically private, domestic and apolitical. The essays in the volume embrace a range of interdisciplinary approaches: historical, literary, palaeographic, linguistic, material and gender-based. Contributors deal with a variety of issues related to early modern women’s correspondence in England and Ireland. These include women’s rhetorical and persuasive skills and the importance of gendered epistolary strategies; gender and the materiality of the letter as a physical form; female agency, education, knowledge and power; epistolary networks and communication technologies. In this volume, the study of women’s letters is not confined to writings by women; contributors here examine not only the collaborative nature of some letter-writing but also explore how men addressed women in their correspondence as well as some rich examples of how women were constructed in and through the letters of men. As a whole, the book stands as a valuable reassessment of the complex gendered nature of early modern women’s correspondence.
Epistolary Community in Print contends that the printed letter is an inherently sociable genre ideally suited to the theorisation of community in early modern England. In manual, prose or poetic form, printed letter collections make private matters public, and in so doing reveal, first how tenuous is the divide between these two realms in the early modern period and, second, how each collection helps to constitute particular communities of readers. Consequently, as Epistolary Community details, epistolary visions of community were gendered. This book provides a genealogy of epistolary discourse beginning with an introductory discussion of Gabriel Harvey and Edmund Spenser’s Wise and Wittie Letters (1580), and opening into chapters on six printed letter collections generated at times of political change. Among the authors whose letters are examined are Angel Day, Michael Drayton, Jacques du Bosque and Margaret Cavendish. Epistolary Community identifies broad patterns that were taking shape, and constantly morphing, in English printed letters from 1580 to 1664, and then considers how the six examples of printed letters selected for discussion manipulate this generic tradition to articulate ideas of community under specific historical and political circumstances. This study makes a substantial contribution to the rapidly growing field of early modern letters, and demonstrates how the field impacts our understanding of political discourses in circulation between 1580 and 1664, early modern women’s writing, print culture and rhetoric.
This book argues that the early modern public/private boundary was surprisingly dynamic and flexible in early modern literature, drawing upon authors including Shakespeare, Anne Lock, Mary Wroth, and Aphra Behn, and genres including lyric poetry, drama, prose fiction, and household orders. An epilogue discusses postmodern privacy in digital media.
Dutch Golden Age scholar Anna Maria van Schurman was widely regarded throughout the seventeenth century as the most learned woman of her age. She was 'The Star of Utrecht','The Dutch Minerva','The Tenth Muse', 'a miracle of her sex', 'the incomparable Virgin', and 'the oracle of Utrecht'. As the first woman ever to attend a university, she was also the first to advocate, boldly, that women should be admitted into universities. A brilliant linguist, she mastered some fifteen languages. She was the first Dutch woman to seek publication of her correspondence. Her letters in several languages Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and French – to the intellectual men and women of her time reveal the breadth of her interests in theology, philosophy, medicine, literature, numismatics, painting, sculpture, embroidery, and instrumental music. This study addresses Van Schurman's transformative contribution to the seventeenth-century debate on women's education. It analyses, first, her educational philosophy; and, second, the transnational reception of her writings on women's education, particularly in France. Anne Larsen explores how, in advocating advanced learning for women, Van Schurman challenged the educational establishment of her day to allow women to study all the arts and the sciences. Her letters offer fascinating insights into the challenges that scholarly women faced in the early modern period when they sought to define themselves as intellectuals, writers, and thoughtful contributors to the social good.
During the seventeenth century, in response to political and social upheavals such as the English Civil Wars, women produced writings in both manuscript and print. This volume represents recent scholarship that has uncovered new texts as well as introduced new paradigms to further our understanding of women's literary history during this period.