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Chapter 7 Sisterhood and female friendship in Constance Aston Fowler’s verse miscellany Helen Hackett C urrent work on early modern women and poetry – including the present volume – is illuminating the relations between poetry and its social contexts. We are discovering that women’s poems were frequently produced in the family, the friendship group, the neighbourhood, or communities defined by shared political or religious affiliation, and that creative interactions within such communities took diverse and complex forms. We are also learning that early modern

in Early modern women and the poem
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.

be seen as ‘sexually abnormal (or anomalous) rather than perverted . . .  the abnormal is not necessarily the diseased’.28 Dissociating abnormality from a more threatening perversion, she reiterated that ‘really affectionate friendship offers indeed the best of all solutions and compensations to the unmarried woman’, though this was again countered by the disclaimer that ‘where the true invert is concerned . . . the management of sex in friendship may offer a serious problem’.29 Female friendship then became strained or excessive, a poor substitute for women

in Odd women?
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Blending the Selves

solitary fires And hear the nations praising them far off!’ Female friendship was an important counterweight to domesticity, but very few even of the avowed feminists of the period wanted to remove women from the home (cf Banks: 48–9; W: 70). Many sympathised with Elizabeth Gaskell’s dislike of ‘speech-making. . . and such noisy obtrusive ways of “doing good”’ (L 123). Florence Nightingale, whom she admired to adulation (e.g. L 211), posed a problem for Elizabeth Gaskell because of her lack of human ties; ‘she has no friend – and she wants none . . . . She and I had a

in Elizabeth Gaskell
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This study portrays Elizabeth Gaskell as an important social analyst who deliberately challenged the Victorian disjunction between public and private ethical values, maintaining a steady resistance to aggressive authority and advocating female friendship, rational motherhood and the power of speech as forces for social change. Since 1987, Gaskell's work has risen from minor to major status. Despite a wealth of subsequent gender-oriented criticism, however, this book's combination of psychoanalytic and political analysis is challenging in its use of modern motherhood theories. It presents the original text unchanged (except for bibliographical updating), together with a new critical Afterword. The Afterword offers detailed evaluation of all the Gaskell criticism published between 1985 and 2004 that has a bearing on the book's subject, and thus provides both a wide-ranging debate on the social implications of motherhood and a survey of Gaskell criticism over the last twenty years. This edition, with an updated bibliography and index, will bring the book to a new audience, while also offering a comprehensive overview of current Gaskell studies.

challenged the view that mother­ hood was woman’s primary duty: Cobbe, amongst others, reiterated the duties of old maids and argued for the richness of their lives alongside ‘the proudest of mothers’ in her article ‘Celibacy v. Marriage’, which both reinforced the values of female friendship and fulfilling work and reminded readers of the ‘risks of an unhappy marriage’ destined for the divorce courts.12 The articles of Mary Taylor, a friend of Charlotte Brontë’s, for the feminist Victoria Magazine in the late 1860s questioned whether all middle-class women were actually

in Odd women?
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’s fiction. The woman writer’s knowing negotiation of ‘the sanctities of official narratives’14 has been seen to be at its most effective in certain autobiographical forms such as the private letter. However, the silences surrounding sexuality and female friendship, a form of self-censorship, are also apparent in women’s autobiographies, from the normalised female marriage of Frances Power Cobbe to the ‘unorthodox’, closeted lesbianism of Vita Sackville-West. The uses of masquerade and various forms of cross-dressing, identified as a common motif of women’s autobiography

in Odd women?
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Kurys’ authorial signature

the contemporary films. The complex relationship between the schoolgirl sisters of Diabolo menthe and the strengths of female friendship portrayed in Coup de foudre , both of which are reprised to some extent in La Baule Les Pins , are transformed into the hostile and perverse relationship between sisters of A la folie. Even more significantly, the female protagonists of Un homme amoureux, Après l’amour and A la

in Diane Kurys
Marie Helena Loughlin

the sodomite. Critics have focused instead on women’s appropriation of amicitia and voluntary kinship, as well as a variety of literary discourses and tropes, such as the representation of the transvestite heroine (on stage and in prose romance); the representation of the loving relationships between women on the pre-Restoration and post-Restoration stage (e.g., Catharine Trotter’s Agnes de Castro: see 9.24), and in the late seventeenth-century poetry of female friendship; as well as the elegiac and pastoral modes used to express these relationships and contain any

in Same-Sex Desire in Early Modern England, 1550–1735
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United States and received an Oscar nomination for best foreign-language film. It provided a European gloss on the themes of women’s independence and female friendship to be found in American films like An Unmarried Woman (Paul Mazursky 1977), Girlfriends (Claudia Weill 1977), The Turning Point (Herbert Ross 1977), Julia (Fred Zinnemann 1977) and Lianna (John Sayles 1983). Yet by 1983, the representation of a proto

in Diane Kurys