In many ways, the field of early modern women’s writing operates as a kind of alternate reality to the wider field of Renaissance literary studies. Despite a rich body of scholarship that reflects diverse critical practices, the field has nevertheless developed according to a different critical timeline than the study of early modern English literature more broadly. As a result, scholars who do not already focus on women’s writing have the option of regarding it as a niche interest rather than a required component of Renaissance studies. What might be done to change this state of affairs? As a way to begin answering that question, we offer an analysis of the temporal and critical disjunctions that often mark early modern women’s writing as a field of study. As we suggest in this essay, these disjunctions represent important opportunities rather than indelible problems: instead of impeding conversation about women’s writing and its place within early modern literary study, a better understanding of the alternate temporality that the field of early modern women’s writing often seems to inhabit can help guide our way forward. This essay explores the challenges that currently face early modern women’s writing as a discipline and suggest strategies for recentering that work within the wider field of English Renaissance literary scholarship. It argues that a feminist formalist approach to the writing of early modern women can serve to counter the narrative of critical belatedness that is often associated with the field by opening up new opportunities for interpreting early modern literature writ large.
Dodds, Lara and Dowd, Michelle M.
"Happy Accidents: Critical Belatedness, Feminist Formalism, and Early Modern Women’s Writing,"
Criticism: Vol. 62:
2, Article 1.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/criticism/vol62/iss2/1