We know how a Shakespeare play sounds when performed today, but what would listeners have heard within the wooden "O" of the Globe Theater in 1599? What sounds would have filled the air in early modern England, and what would these sounds have meant to people in that largely oral culture?
In this ear-opening journey into the sound-worlds of Shakespeare's contemporaries, Bruce R. Smith explores both the physical aspects of human speech (ears, lungs, tongue) and the surrounding environment (buildings, landscape, climate), as well as social and political structures. Drawing on a staggeringly wide range of evidence, he crafts a historical phenomenology of sound, from reconstructions of the "soundscapes" of city, country, and court to detailed accounts of the acoustic properties of the Globe and Blackfriars theaters and how scripts designed for the two spaces exploited sound very differently.
Critical for anyone who wants to understand the world of early modern England, Smith's pathbreaking "ecology" of voice and listening also has much to offer musicologists and acoustic ecologists.
In The Aesthetics of Service in Early Modern England, Elizabeth Rivlin explores the ways in which servant-master relationships reshaped literature. The early modern servant is enjoined to obey his or her master out of dutiful love, but the servant's duty actually amounts to standing in for the master, a move that opens the possibility of becoming master. Rivlin shows that service is fundamentally a representational practice, in which the servant who acts for a master merges with the servant who acts as a master.
Rivlin argues that in the early modern period, servants found new positions as subjects and authors found new forms of literature. Representations of servants and masters became a site of contact between pressing material concerns and evolving aesthetic ones. Offering readings of dramas by Shakespeare, Jonson, and Thomas Dekker and prose fictions by Thomas Deloney and Thomas Nashe, Rivlin suggests that these authors discovered their own exciting and unstable projects in the servants they created.
Amid the religious tumult of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, English scholars, preachers, and dramatists examined, debated, and refashioned tales concerning Pope Joan, a ninth-century woman who, as legend has it, cross-dressed her way to the papacy only to have her imposture exposed when she gave birth during a solemn procession.
The legend concerning a popess had first taken written form in the thirteenth century and for several hundred years was more or less accepted. The Reformation, however, polarized discussions of the legend, pitting Catholics, who denied the story’s veracity, against Protestants, who suspected a cover-up and instantly cited Joan as evidence of papal depravity. In this heated environment, writers reimagined Joan variously as a sorceress, a hermaphrodite, and even a noteworthy author.
The Afterlife of Pope Joan examines sixteenth- and seventeenth-century debates concerning the popess’s existence, uncovering the disputants’ historiographic methods, rules of evidence, rhetorical devices, and assumptions concerning what is probable and possible for women and transvestites. Author Craig Rustici then investigates the cultural significance of a series of notions advanced in those debates: the claim that Queen Elizabeth I was a popess in her own right, the charge that Joan penned a book of sorcery, and the curious hypothesis that the popess was not a disguised woman at all but rather a man who experienced a sort of spontaneous sex change.
The Afterlife of Pope Joan draws upon the discourses of religion, politics, natural philosophy, and imaginative literature, demonstrating how the popess functioned as a powerful rhetorical instrument and revealing anxieties and ambivalences about gender roles that persist even today.
Craig M. Rustici is Associate Professor of English at Hofstra University.
Before the eighteenth-century rise of the ideology of intimacy, sexuality was defined not by social affiliations but by bodies. In Before Intimacy, Daniel Juan Gil examines sixteenth-century English literary concepts of sexuality that frame erotic ties as neither bound by social customs nor transgressive of them, but rather as “loopholes” in people’s experiences and associations.
Engaging the poems of Wyatt, Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella, Spenser’s Amoretti and The Faerie Queene, and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida and the Sonnets, Gil demonstrates how sexuality was conceived as a relationship system inhabited by men and women interchangeably—set apart from the “norm” and not institutionalized in a private or domestic realm. Going beyond the sodomy-as-transgression analytic, he asserts the existence of socially inconsequential sexual bonds while recognizing the pleasurable effects of violating the supposed traditional modes of bonding and ideals of universal humanity and social hierarchy.
Celebrating the ability of corporeal emotions to interpret connections between people who share nothing in terms of societal structure, Before Intimacy shows how these works of early modern literature provide a discourse of sexuality that strives to understand status differences in erotic contexts and thereby question key assumptions of modernity.
Daniel Juan Gil is assistant professor of English at TCU.
The Book of the Play is a collection of essays that examines early modern drama in the context of book history. Focusing on the publication, marketing, and readership of plays opens fresh perspectives on the relationship between the cultures of print and performance and more broadly between drama and the public sphere. Marta Straznicky’s introduction offers a survey of approaches to the history of play reading in this period, and the collection as a whole consolidates recent work in textual, bibliographic, and cultural studies of printed drama. Individually, the essays advance our understanding of play reading as a practice with distinct material forms, discourses, social settings, and institutional affiliation. Part One, “Real and Imagined Communities,” includes four essays on play-reading communities and the terms in which they are distinguished from the reading public at large. Cyndia Clegg surveys the construction of readers in prefaces to published plays; Lucy Munro traces three separate readings of a single play, Edward Sharpham’s The Fleer; Marta Straznicky studies women as readers of printed drama; and Elizabeth Sauer describes how play reading was mobilized for political purposes in the period of the civil war. In Part Two, “Play Reading and the Book Trade,” five essays consider the impact of play reading on the public sphere through the lens of publishing practices. Zachary Lesser offers a revisionist account of black-letter typeface and the extent to which it may be understood as an index of popular culture; Alan Farmer examines how the emerging news trade of the 1620s and 1630s affected the marketing of printed drama; Peter Berek traces the use of generic terms on title pages of plays to reveal their intersection with the broader culture of reading; Lauren Shohet demonstrates that the Stuart masque had a parallel existence in the culture of print; and Douglas Brooks traces the impact print had on eclipsing performance as the medium in which the dramatist could legitimately lay claim to having authored his text. The individual essays focus on selected communities of readers, publication histories, and ideologies and practices of reading; the collection as a whole demonstrates the importance of textual production and reception to understanding the place of drama in the early modern public sphere.
Both from the Ears and Mind offers a bold new understanding of the intellectual and cultural position of music in Tudor and Stuart England. Linda Phyllis Austern brings to life the kinds of educated writings and debates that surrounded musical performance, and the remarkable ways in which English people understood music to inform other endeavors, from astrology and self-care to divinity and poetics. Music was considered both art and science, and discussions of music and musical terminology provided points of contact between otherwise discrete fields of human learning. This book demonstrates how knowledge of music permitted individuals to both reveal and conceal membership in specific social, intellectual, and ideological communities. Attending to materials that go beyond music’s conventional limits, these chapters probe the role of music in commonplace books, health-maintenance and marriage manuals, rhetorical and theological treatises, and mathematical dictionaries. Ultimately, Austern illustrates how music was an indispensable frame of reference that became central to the fabric of life during a time of tremendous intellectual, social, and technological change.
In Coming To, Timothy M. Harrison uncovers the forgotten role of poetry in the history of the idea of consciousness. Drawing our attention to a sea change in the English seventeenth century, when, over the course of a half century, “conscience” made a sudden shift to “consciousness,” he traces a line that leads from the philosophy of René Descartes to the poetry of John Milton, from the prenatal memories of theologian Thomas Traherne to the unresolved perspective on natality, consciousness, and ethics in the philosophy of John Locke. Each of these figures responded to the first-person perspective by turning to the origins of how human thought began. Taken together, as Harrison shows, this unlikely group of thinkers sheds new light on the emergence of the concept of consciousness and the significance of human natality to central questions in the fields of literature, philosophy, and the history of science.
Common Prayer explores the relationship between prayer and poetry in the century following the Protestant Reformation. Ramie Targoff challenges the conventional and largely misleading distinctions between the ritualized world of Catholicism and the more individualistic focus of Protestantism. Early modern England, she demonstrates, was characterized less by the triumph of religious interiority than by efforts to shape public forms of devotion. This provocatively revisionist argument will have major implications for early modern studies.
Through readings of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Richard Hooker's Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, Philip Sidney's Apology for Poetry and his translations of the Psalms, John Donne's sermons and poems, and George Herbert's The Temple, Targoff uncovers the period's pervasive and often surprising interest in cultivating public and formalized models of worship. At the heart of this study lies an original and daring approach to understanding the origins of devotional poetry; Targoff shows how the projects of composing eloquent verse and improving liturgical worship come to be deeply intertwined. New literary practices, then, became a powerful means of forging common prayer, or controlling private and otherwise unmanageable expressions of faith.
With Faithful Translators Jaime Goodrich offers the first in-depth examination of women’s devotional translations and of religious translations in general within early modern England. Placing female translators such as Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, alongside their male counterparts, such as Sir Thomas More and Sir Philip Sidney, Goodrich argues that both male and female translators constructed authorial poses that allowed their works to serve four distinct cultural functions: creating privacy, spreading propaganda, providing counsel, and representing religious groups. Ultimately, Faithful Translators calls for a reconsideration of the apparent simplicity of "faithful" translations and aims to reconfigure perceptions of early modern authorship, translation, and women writers.
Tattoos and graffiti immediately bring to mind contemporary urban life and its inhabitants. But in fact, both practices date back much further than is generally thought—even by scholars. Drawing on a previously unavailable archive, Juliet Fleming reveals the unknown and disregarded literary arts of sixteenth century England.
In Graffiti and the Writing Arts of Early Modern England, Fleming argues that our modern assumptions of what constitutes written expression have limited our access to and understanding of early modern history and writing. Fleming combines detailed historical scholarship with intellectual daring in a work that describes how writing practices have not been limited to the boundaries of the page; instead they have included body surfaces, ceramics, ceilings, walls, and windows.
Moving beyond what has been preserved in print and manuscript, this book claims the whitewashed wall as the primary textual canvas of the early modern English, explores the tattooing practices of sixteenth-century Europeans, and uncovers the poetics of ceramic cookware. Graffiti and the Writing Arts of Early Modern England will provide a startling new perspective for scholars of early modern literature and cultural history.
In romances—Renaissance England’s version of the fantasy novel—characters often discover books that turn out to be magical or prophetic, and to offer insights into their readers’ selves. The Immaterial Book examines scenes of reading in important romance texts across genres: Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and The Tempest, Wroth’s Urania, and Cervantes’ Don Quixote. It offers a response to “material book studies” by calling for a new focus on imaginary or “immaterial” books and argues that early modern romance authors, rather than replicating contemporary reading practices within their texts, are reviving ancient and medieval ideas of the book as a conceptual framework, which they use to investigate urgent, new ideas about the self and the self-conscious mind.
Keith Thomas’s earlier studies in the ethnography of early modern England, Religion and the Decline of Magic, Man and the Natural World, and The Ends of Life, were all attempts to explore beliefs, values, and social practices in the centuries from 1500 to 1800. In Pursuit of Civility continues this quest by examining what English people thought it meant to be “civilized” and how that condition differed from being “barbarous” or “savage.” Thomas shows that the upper ranks of society sought to distinguish themselves from their social inferiors by distinctive ways of moving, speaking, and comporting themselves, and that the common people developed their own form of civility. The belief of the English in their superior civility shaped their relations with the Welsh, the Scots, and the Irish, and was fundamental to their dealings with the native peoples of North America, India, and Australia. Yet not everyone shared this belief in the superiority of Western civilization; the book sheds light on the origins of both anticolonialism and cultural relativism. Thomas has written an accessible history based on wide reading, abounding in fresh insights, and illustrated by many striking quotations and anecdotes from contemporary sources.
A wide-ranging study of the ideology of population control in early modern England.
Across the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a growing notion of the value of a large populace created a sense of urgency about reproduction; accordingly, a wide array of English writers of the time voiced the need not merely to add more people but also to ensure that England had an abundance of the right kinds of people. This need, in turn, called for a variety of institutions to train-and thus make, through a kind of nonbiological procreation-pious, enterprising, and dutiful subjects. In Increase and Multiply, David Glimp examines previously unexplored links between this emergent demographic mentality and Renaissance literature.
Glimp's analysis centers on humanist pedagogy as a mechanism for creating people capable of governing both themselves and others. Acknowledging the ways in which authors such as Sidney, Shakespeare, and Milton advance their own work by appealing to this vision, Glimp argues that their texts allow us to read the scope and limits of this generative ideal, its capacity to reinforce order and to become excessive and destabilizing. His work provides unprecedented insight into the role of fantasies of nonbiological reproduction in early modern political theory, government practice, and literary production.
David Glimp is assistant professor of English at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida.
The first scholar to investigate the subject of women’s anger in early modern England, Gwynne Kennedy analyzes portrayals of and attitudes toward women’s anger in printed texts by or purporting to be written by women during the period.
Kennedy draws from recent critical work on emotions by historians, literary scholars, philosophers, and psychologists as well as comparative studies of the emotions by cultural anthropologists. Kennedy also examines a number of male-authored works, including sermons, conduct literature, philosophy, rhetoric, and medicine. The focus of her work, however, is on representations of women’s anger in printed works signed with women’s names in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century England. She addresses the ways these writings conform to, conflict with, or appear to reconfigure prevailing beliefs about women’s anger.
Kennedy looks at such literary texts as Mary Wroth’s romance, The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania, the first fiction by an English woman; Elizabeth Cary’s play, The Tragedy of Mariam, the earliest extant play in English by a woman; and Aemilia Lanyer’s verse collection, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum. She also discusses religious writings by Protestant martyr Anne Askew and Elizabeth Cary’s history of Edward II. Kennedy considers as well defenses of women’s nature authored by women (Rachel Speght and Aemilia Lanyer) or published under female pseudonyms (“Jane Anger,” “Ester Sowernam,” and “Constantia Munda”).
Kennedy demonstrates the importance of class and race as factors affecting anger’s legitimacy and its forms of expression. She shows how early modern assumptions about women’s anger can help to create or exaggerate other differences among women. Her close scrutiny of anger against female inferiority emphasizes the crucial role of emotions in the construction of self-worth and identity.
Early modern English writers often complained that “charity had grown cold,” lamenting the dissolution of society’s communal bonds. But far from diminishing in scope or influence, charity generated heated debates, animated by social, political, and religious changes that prompted urgent questions about the virtue’s powers and functions. Charity was as much a problem as it was a solution, a sure sign of trouble even when invoked on behalf of peace and community.
Love’s Quarrels charts charity’s complex history from the 1520s to the 1640s and details the ways in which it can be best understood in biblical translations of the early sixteenth century, in Elizabethan polemic and satire, and in the political and religious controversies arriving at the outset of civil war. As key works from Edmund Spenser, Ben Jonson, and John Milton reveal, “reading charity” was fraught with difficulty as early modern England reconsidered its deepest held convictions in the face of mounting social disruption and spiritual pressure.
In Jennifer Summit’s account, libraries are more than inert storehouses of written tradition; they are volatile spaces that actively shape the meanings and uses of books, reading, and the past. Considering the two-hundred-year period between 1431, which saw the foundation of Duke Humfrey’s famous library, and 1631, when the great antiquarian Sir Robert Cotton died, Memory’s Library revises the history of the modern library by focusing on its origins in medieval and early modern England.
Summit argues that the medieval sources that survive in English collections are the product of a Reformation and post-Reformation struggle to redefine the past by redefining the cultural place, function, and identity of libraries. By establishing the intellectual dynamism of English libraries during this crucial period of their development, Memory’s Library demonstrates how much current discussions about the future of libraries can gain by reexamining their past.
The theater of early modern England was a disastrous affair. The scant record of its performance demonstrates as much, for what we tend to remember today of the Shakespearean stage and its history are landmark moments of dissolution: the burning down of the Globe, the forced closure of playhouses during outbreaks of the plague, and the abolition of the theater by its Cromwellian opponents.
Persecution, Plague, and Fire is a study of these catastrophes and the theory of performance they convey. Ellen MacKay argues that the various disasters that afflicted the English theater during its golden age were no accident but the promised end of a practice built on disappearance and erasure—a kind of fatal performance that left nothing behind but its self-effacing poetics. Bringing together dramatic theory, performance studies, and theatrical, religious, and cultural history, MacKay reveals the period’s radical take on the history and the future of the stage to show just how critical the relation was between early modern English theater and its public.
During the seventeenth century, England was beset by three epidemics of the bubonic plague, each outbreak claiming between a quarter and a third of the population of London and other urban centers. Surveying a wide range of responses to these epidemics—sermons, medical tracts, pious exhortations, satirical pamphlets, and political commentary—Plague Writing in Early Modern England brings to life the many and complex ways Londoners made sense of such unspeakable devastation.
Ernest B. Gilman argues that the plague writing of the period attempted unsuccessfully to rationalize the catastrophic and that its failure to account for the plague as an instrument of divine justice fundamentally threatened the core of Christian belief. Gilman also trains his critical eye on the works of Jonson, Donne, Pepys, and Defoe, which, he posits, can be more fully understood when put into the context of this century-long project to “write out” the plague. Ultimately, Plague Writing in Early Modern England is more than a compendium of artifacts of a bygone era; it holds up a distant mirror to reflect our own condition in the age of AIDS, super viruses, multidrug resistant tuberculosis, and the hovering threat of a global flu pandemic.
Across early modern Europe, men and women from all ranks gathered medical, culinary, and food preservation recipes from family and friends, experts and practitioners, and a wide array of printed materials. Recipes were tested, assessed, and modified by teams of householders, including masters and servants, husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, and fathers and sons. This much-sought know-how was written into notebooks of various shapes and sizes forming “treasuries for health,” each personalized to suit the whims and needs of individual communities.
In Recipes and Everyday Knowledge, Elaine Leong situates recipe knowledge and practices among larger questions of gender and cultural history, the history of the printed word, and the history of science, medicine, and technology. The production of recipes and recipe books, she argues, were at the heart of quotidian investigations of the natural world or “household science”. She shows how English homes acted as vibrant spaces for knowledge making and transmission, and explores how recipe trials allowed householders to gain deeper understandings of sickness and health, of the human body, and of natural and human-built processes. By recovering this story, Leong extends the parameters of natural inquiry and productively widens the cast of historical characters participating in and contributing to early modern science.
While early modern selfhood has been explored during the last two decades via a series of historical identity studies involving class, race and ethnicity, and gender and sexuality, until very recently there has been little engagement with disability and disabled selves in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. This omission is especially problematic insofar as representations of disabled bodies and minds serve as some of the signature features in English Renaissance texts. Recovering Disability in Early Modern England explores how recent conversations about difference in the period have either overlooked or misidentified disability representations. It also presents early modern disability studies as a new theoretical lens that can reanimate scholarly dialogue about human variation and early modern subjectivities even as it motivates more politically invested classroom pedagogies. The ten essays in this collection range across genre, scope, and time, including examinations of real-life court dwarfs and dwarf narrators in Edmund Spenser’s poetry; disability in Aphra Behn’s assessment of gender and femininity; disability humor, Renaissance jest books, and cultural ideas about difference; madness in revenge tragedies; Spenserian allegory and impairment; the materiality of literary blindness; feigned disability in Jonsonian drama; political appropriation of Richard III in the postcommunist Czech Republic; the Book of Common Prayeras textual accommodation for cognitive disability; and Thomas Hobbes’s and John Locke’s inherently ableist conceptions of freedom and political citizenship.
This compelling book explores sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English retellings of the Roman siege of Jerusalem and the way they informed and were informed by religious and political developments. The siege featured prominently in many early modern English sermons, ballads, plays, histories, and pamphlets, functioning as a touchstone for writers who sought to locate their own national drama of civil and religious tumult within a larger biblical and post-biblical context. Reformed England identified with besieged Jerusalem, establishing an equivalency between the Protestant church and the ancient Jewish nation but exposing fears that a displeased God could destroy his beloved nation. As print culture grew, secular interpretations of the siege ran alongside once-dominant providentialist narratives and spoke to the political anxieties in England as it was beginning to fashion a conception of itself as a nation.
Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
In Sappho in Early Modern England, Harriette Andreadis examines public and private expressions of female same-sex sexuality in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. Before the language of modern sexual identities developed, a variety of discourses in both literary and extraliterary texts began to form a lexicon of female intimacy. Looking at accounts of non-normative female sexualities in travel narratives, anatomies, and even marital advice books, Andreadis outlines the vernacular through which a female same-sex erotics first entered verbal consciousness. She finds that "respectable" women of the middle classes and aristocracy who did not wish to identify themselves as sexually transgressive developed new vocabularies to describe their desires; women that we might call bisexual or lesbian, referred to in their day as tribades, fricatrices, or "rubsters," emerged in erotic discourses that allowed them to acknowledge their sexuality and still evade disapproval.
What is sex exactly? Does everyone agree on a definition? And does that definition hold when considering literary production in other times and places? Sex before Sex makes clear that we cannot simply transfer our contemporary notions of what constitutes a sex act into the past and expect them to be true for the people who were then reading literature and watching plays. The contributors confront how our current critical assumptions about definitions of sex restrict our understanding of representations of sexuality in early modern England.
Drawing attention to overlooked forms of sexual activity in early modern culture, from anilingus and interspecies sex to “chin-chucking” and convivial drinking, Sex before Sex offers a multifaceted view of what sex looked like before the term entered history. Through incisive interpretations of a wide range of literary texts, including Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Paradise Lost, the figure of Lucretia, and pornographic poetry, this collection queries what might constitute sex in the absence of a widely accepted definition and how a historicized concept of sex affects the kinds of arguments that can be made about early modern sexualities.
Contributors: Holly Dugan, George Washington U; Will Fisher, CUNY–Lehman College; Stephen Guy-Bray, U of British Columbia; Melissa J. Jones, Eastern Michigan U; Thomas H. Luxon, Dartmouth College; Nicholas F. Radel, Furman U; Kathryn Schwarz, Vanderbilt U; Christine Varnado, U of Buffalo–SUNY.
Migrants made up a growing class of workers in late sixteenth- and seventeenth- century England. In fact, by 1650, half of England’s rural population consisted of homeless and itinerant laborers. Unsettled is an ambitious attempt to reconstruct the everyday lives of these dispossessed people. Patricia Fumerton offers an expansive portrait of unsettledness in early modern England that includes the homeless and housed alike.
Fumerton begins by building on recent studies of vagrancy, poverty, and servants, placing all in the light of a new domestic economy of mobility. She then looks at representations of the vagrant in a variety of pamphlets and literature of the period. Since seamen were a particularly large and prominent class of mobile wage-laborers in the seventeenth century, Fumerton turns to seamen generally and to an individual poor seaman as a case study of the unsettled subject: Edward Barlow (b. 1642) provides a rare opportunity to see how the laboring poor fashioned themselves, for he authored a journal of over 225,000 words and 147 pages of drawings. Barlow’s journal, studied extensively here for the first time, vividly charts what he himself termed his “unsettled mind” and the perpetual anxieties of England’s working and wayfaring poor. Ultimately, Fumerton explores representations of seamen as unsettled in the broadside ballads of Barlow’s time.
While many scholars find the early modern triad of virtues for women—silence, chastity, and obedience—to be straightforward and nonnegotiable, Jessica C. Murphy demonstrates that these virtues were by no means as direct and inflexible as they might seem. Drawing on the literature of the period—from the plays of Shakespeare to a conduct manual written for a princess to letters from a wife to her husband—as well as contemporary gender theory and philosophy, she uncovers the multiple meanings of behavioral expectations for sixteenth- and seventeenth-century women. Through her renegotiation of cultural ideals as presented in both literary and nonliterary texts of early modern England, Murphy presents models for “acceptable” women’s conduct that lie outside of the rigid prescriptions of the time.
Virtuous Necessity will appeal to readers interested in early modern English literature, including canonical authors such as Shakespeare, Spenser, and Milton, as well as their female contemporaries such as Amelia Lanyer and Elizabeth Cary. It will also appeal to scholars of conduct literature; of early modern drama, popular literature, poetry, and prose; of women’s history; and of gender theory.
Women as Translators in Early Modern England offers a feminist theory of translation that considers both the practice and representation of translation in works penned by early modern women. It argues for the importance of such a theory in changing how we value women’s work. Because of England’s formal split from the Catholic Church and the concomitant elevation of the written vernacular, the early modern period presents a rich case study for such a theory. This era witnessed not only a keen interest in reviving the literary glories of the past, but also a growing commitment to humanist education, increasing literacy rates among women and laypeople, and emerging articulations of national sentiment. Moreover, the period saw a shift in views of authorship, in what it might mean for individuals to seek fame or profit through writing. Until relatively recently in early modern scholarship, women were understood as excluded from achieving authorial status for a number of reasons—their limited education, the belief that public writing was particularly scandalous for women, and the implicit rule that they should adhere to the holy trinity of “chastity, silence, and obedience.”
While this view has changed significantly, women writers are still understood, however grudgingly, as marginal to the literary culture of the time. Fewer women than men wrote, they wrote less, and their “choice” of genres seems somewhat impoverished; add to this the debate over translation as a potential vehicle of literary expression and we can see why early modern women’s writings are still undervalued. This book looks at how female translators represent themselves and their work, revealing a general pattern in which translation reflects the limitations women faced as writers while simultaneously giving them the opportunity to transcend these limitations. Indeed, translation gave women the chance to assume an authorial role, a role that by legal and cultural standards should have been denied to them, a role that gave them ownership of their words and the chance to achieve profit, fame, status and influence.
Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.