Category Archives: Articles

November 2019 – “I leave the Reader to judge and compare ’em”: Computational Explorations of Aphra Behn’s Dramatic Dubia

Mel Evans for the SSEMWG Blog

Aphra Behn and her literary works, as is often the case with pioneers, have been subject to extensive criticism and derogation. Accusations of plagiarism, salacious and bawdy content, and poor literary merit were directed at her theatrical, prose and poetic works throughout her lifetime, and subsequent criticism and popular opinion has often adopted a similar stance. More recently, Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

April 2019 – Axes of Uncertainty and Recovering Women’s Voices in Early Modern Miscellanies.

Eric McCarthy for the SSEMWG Blog

I began with what seemed like a straightforward question: which female-authored works were transcribed most often in manuscript miscellanies? It was easy enough to produce a ranked list of the works in the miscellanies we had consulted, but a problem quickly became apparent: the attributions of several of the most frequently transcribed poems are questionable at best and demonstrably false at worst. Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

November 2018 – ‘She said’: women’s authority, #MeToo and Margaret Cavendish

Joanne Wright for the SSEMW Blog

In 1989, students and staff at Columbia University hung a 170-foot wide banner off the top of Butler Library featuring the names of women writers, from Sappho and Christine de Pizan to Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and Virginia Woolf. As Laura Brown, who designed and made the banner, pointed out, “Great women do not get their names inscribed on buildings.”[1] Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

May 2018 – Uncomfortable Alliances, Embarrassing Relations: Resisting and Reclaiming Intersectionality

Christina Luckyj for the SSEMW Blog

Coalitions, especially intersectional ones, can make for strange bedfellows. Many of us who advocate for early modern women writers might well avert our eyes if those women appeared on our street corners to hawk their religious pamphlets – just as they in turn might cast a censorious glance in our direction as we scurried past. “For various reasons, I sometimes feel uncomfortable about all this work on early modern religious texts,” tweeted Helen Smith on April 5 2018, citing her “lifelong atheism” as one reason for her discomfort. “The #nuntastic hashtag, great though it is, doesn’t let scholars articulate their unease at these texts, and especially at particular subject positions,” she continued. Many of us would identify as “activists” – as passionate advocates for marginalized or forgotten voices – but we must also be aware of the uneasy intersectionality of a project that involves the recruitment of different, potentially resistant identities for the imaginary coalitions we seek to form with women of the past. Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

February 2018 – Activism and Intersectionality, Storytelling and Audience

Niamh J. O’Leary for the SSEMW blog

As I write this post, the first anniversary of the Women’s March has just passed. Hearing the theme of this year’s SSEMW blog, early modern intersectionalities and activism, I thought of the waves of activist energy that moved across the United States this past year, an activism that, in its best incarnation, strives to be intersectional. I wondered what early modern texts could teach today’s young activists about intersectionality, and how the work I’ve done on the political alliances of female characters on the early modern stage might provide insight for contemporary activism. Continue reading

Posted in Articles | 4 Comments

November 2017 – Early Modern Intersectionalities and Activisms

Merry Wiesner-Hanks for the SSEMW Blog

In January of this year, a group of us from Milwaukee joined the hundreds of thousands at the Women’s March in Washington, an experience that even those among us who were veterans of many protests will never forget. (You can see our group as the banner on my Facebook home page, as I can’t bear to change the picture.) As was true for many others, our experience began in the airplane on the way there, when we realized that almost everyone on the plane, even those women in pearls and heels, was going to Washington for the same purpose. Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

May 2017 – Creative Women on the Move: Two Transnational Celebrities, An Actor and a Calligrapher

Sarah Ross for the SSEMW Blog

Early-modern women moved. Even if much prescriptive literature consigned women to domestic drudgery in fixed abodes, their lived experiences often evinced considerable mobility artistically, spiritually, intellectually, and physically — as readers of this blog series are now well aware. Joining the conversation, I would like to (re)introduce to readers two fascinating women who crossed multiple borders, in multiple senses: Isabella Andreini (c.1562-1604) and Esther Inglis (c.1571-1624). Andreini and Inglis had a great deal in common, even if at first glance they seem to have inhabited very different worlds. The Italian Andreini earned accolades as a poet, as the author of a wildly popular pastoral drama titled Mirtilla (The Blueberry, in its tenth edition by 1616), and as a commedia dell’arte performer. Inglis, French by birth and Scottish by marriage, devoted her life to work as a calligrapher and Christian humanist Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

February 2017 – The Violence of Transnationalism and Indigenous Women’s Resistance

Bernadette Andrea for the SSEMW Blog

The first indigenous American woman in England was not Pocahantas (“Matoaka alias Rebecca daughter to the mighty Prince Powhatan”), who journeyed to London in 1616 and died in Gravesend on the south bank of the Thames Estuary in 1617,[1] but Ignorth, an Inuit woman Martin Frobisher captured on his second voyage in search of the Northwest Passage and transported to Bristol, where she died in 1577.[2] Her life thus signals a history of contact – and, ultimately, colonialism – that extends the subject of early modern women and transnationalism into what historian Merry Weisner-Hanks identifies as “the global turn” in gender studies.[3] Continue reading

Posted in Articles | 1 Comment

January 2017 – Early Modern Women and Transnationalism: The Case of Anna Maria van Schurman, ‘The Star of Utrecht’

Anne R. Larsen for the SSEMW Blog

“Transnational scholarship is all the rage,” to borrow from Allyson Poska’s inaugural blog for SSEMW in September 2016. Rightly so. As students and scholars of early modern women, we are increasingly searching for the ways in which these women participated in a variety of transnational communities of letters, be they agents of empire, colonizers, noblewomen and royalty, women religious, writers, thinkers, scientists, or artists.

A prime example of an early modern woman who crossed borders is the German-born Dutch linguist and scholar Anna Maria van Schurman (1607-78). Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

November 2016 – Bernardino Ochino and the Women Who Made His Career Possible

Julie D. Campbell for the SSEMW Blog

In January 2106, I attended a webinar entitled “Networking Early Modern Women,” intended to help scholars add early modern English women’s names to the Six Degrees of Francis Bacon project, a DH endeavor produced by a partnership between Carnegie Mellon University and Georgetown University. The Bacon project, co-founded by Christopher Warren and Daniel Shore, “aims to be the broadest, most accessible source of who knew whom in early modern Britain.” Warren says that Six Degrees shows two degrees of relationship—“Think friends and friends of friends.”[1] It occurred to me that if one mapped the friends and friends of friends of Bernardino Ochino (1487-1564), the Sienese Franciscan friar and, later, Capuchin monk, famous for his reform theology, the result would be a fascinating constellation of “two degree” relationships between English and continental women. Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments