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Editor: Susan Wiseman

In examining early modern women and the poem, this book explores how women use poetry, and how poems use women, in England and Scotland in the period 1550–1680. Several decades of critical writing on 'women's poetry', 'gender and poetry', and the representation of women, or gender, in poetry have produced a rich and complex critical and scholarly field. The book looks at the primary and secondary evidence concerning two key elements in the analysis of early modern women's writing, namely, women and the poem. It first explores the way women understood the poem in terms of the reception, influence and adaptation of past models and examples, working from the reception of classical texts. It focuses on the resources women writing poetry knew and encountered in chapters on classical inheritance, the religious sonnet sequence and the secular sonnet sequence. The book then examines the world of reading and readers, and looks at poems in terms of friendships, quarrels, competitions, coteries, networks and critical reception, both then and later. It also emphasises the tales that poems tell, and how those stories both register and shape the understanding of women and the poem in the world of potential readers. In examining women and the poem, the use of women as signifiers and bearers of meaning in poetry is as significant as women's literary production.

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Reading early modern women and the poem
Patricia Pender and Rosalind Smith

Afterword Reading early modern women and the poem Patricia Pender and Rosalind Smith I n 2007, the journal Women’s Writing dedicated an issue to early modern women’s writing following the 2005 conference ‘Still kissing the rod’. The papers published there highlighted both new directions in the field and issues central to the field’s conception that remained unresolved. On the one hand, critical work on a rapidly increasing number of early modern women writers was seen to be transforming concepts of early modern authorship, transmission practices and histories

in Early modern women and the poem
Poems and recipes in early modern women’s writing
Jayne Elisabeth Archer

has transmuted her feminine skill in distillation and has used it to create the ‘Quintessence of Wit’, which has its own unique power to preserve and transform. In fact, as Cavendish’s readers would have recognised, early modern women were indeed able to transmute their worlds because, and not in spite of, their household work. The period 1550–1700 witnessed a burgeoning

in Reading and writing recipe books, 1550–1800
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Reading Old Testament women in early modern England, 1550–1700
Victoria Brownlee and Laura Gallagher

demand female silence but affords women powerful, effective voices. 9 The voices of these Old Testament women could be used to counter cultural restrictions on female speech but they could also be used to sanction women’s written words. Identification with the speaking women of the Bible was an important authorising tactic of early modern women writers, and the

in Biblical women in early modern literary culture 1550–1700
Elaine Hobby

, close engagement with the full range of their contents and language is yet to be made. An equally rich resource are the longer spiritual autobiographies by women that were published (often posthumously) in the decades that followed, which have received only limited attention. 22 Just as religious writings from the early modern period can be surprisingly productive resources for scholars wishing to investigate early modern women’s life-cycle experiences, works focused on the material realities of birth

in Religion and life cycles in early modern England
Lucy Hutchinson and the classicisation of scripture
Edward Paleit

Chapter 1 Women’s poetry and classical authors: Lucy Hutchinson and the classicisation of scripture Edward Paleit Introduction: the distant muses – early modern women poets and classical antiquity E arly modern women poets’ search for cultural authority and poetic  voice involved a vexed, sometimes contradictory relationship to literary models (as Sarah Ross and Line Cottegnies explore further in chapters 2 and 3). Classical poetry was especially awkward for women writers to accommodate and imitate, for a variety of social and cultural reasons. Greek and

in Early modern women and the poem
Responses to learned women
Gemma Allen

political connections, and the complex representations of the aged sisters respond to their perceived influence. In many ways, this chapter therefore offers a warning against the methodology of past research on the stereotype of the learned woman. It contends that the Cooke sisters, as is the case with too much scholarly work on the gendered representations of early modern women, have been subject to the practice of ‘mining’ for apt quotations, which obscures the overall impression presented by a text. Clapham’s Certain Observations, written after the death of Elizabeth I

in The Cooke sisters
Exegesis and political controversy in the 1550s
Adrian Streete

formulation does not completely negate the need for secular political action, sometimes even by women. As Constance Jordan writes about the political and spiritual status of early modern women: ‘In the language of Renaissance political thought, she is a persona mixta : her natural and political self balanced by her spiritual self’ ( 1990 : 23). Though early modern patriarchy often

in Biblical women in early modern literary culture 1550–1700
Margaret J. M. Ezell

The study of recipe books as a genre has had a long tradition, especially for those interested in early modern women’s texts. Previous studies of the genre during this period have tended to concentrate primarily on the identity of the writer/cook, the material circumstances of the supposed readers and the cultural work of the contents, both

in Reading and writing recipe books, 1550–1800
Purification, candles, and the Inviolata as music for churching
Jane D. Hatter

their exclusion by ecclesiastical authorities. 2 Early modern women’s churching ceremonies were closely associated with Candlemas, or the Feast of the Virgin Mary’s Purification, and the two shared many elements: in particular, processions with candles and, as discussed in this chapter, music. For members of the urban middle class of the early sixteenth century, both Catholic and early

in Conversions