ENGL719E - Seminar In Renaissance Literature. Early Modern Women, Literacies, Aftermaths

This course centers on concepts of physical disability from antiquity through the early modern period and on 

In a famous article, Joan Kelly argued that women did not have a Renaissance. Joan Gibson and others have documented the conduct books that advised that women should not learn rhetoric. Yet in the last thirty years, we have discovered scores of women's published works and more circulated in manuscript, as well as evidence for women speaking out for their rights. What institutions, then, supported women's writing and speaking? How did women learn to write? How did they come to publish either in print or in manuscript? This seminar will explore early modern women's literacies and the institutions that enabled them: the gift-exchange system and poetry by Anne Lok and Isabella Whitney; the Protestant Reformation, Bible reading, and works by Anne Askew, Mary Sidney, and Margaret Fell; petitions and pamphlets by working women, the Maydens of London, and Belinda the slave; humanism, classical rhetoric, and women's rhetorical theory by Madeleine de Scudéry and Mary Astell; orations by Elizabeth I, Scudéry, and Margaret Cavendish; letters by the Paston and de Lisle family women, Whitney, Scudéry, and Cavendish; the controversy about women and pamphlets by Jane Anger and Rachel Speght; household entertainment and plays by Elizabeth Carey and Lady Mary Wroth; women's sexualities and works by Wroth, Scudéry, and Katherine Philips; defenses of women's education and conduct rhetoric by Bathsua Makin and Hannah More. We will end the semester with student reports and considerations of global early modern literature by Japanese, Indian, and Chinese women. Requirements will include student reports and panels and a set of inter-related abstract, oral paper, and essay. In their own research, students are welcome to carry the topics of women's literacy into nonfiction works up to 1900. For those interested, we will try to take a workshop based on the topic of the class to the international "Attending to Early Modern Women" Conference in Milwaukee in June 2012.