From the Archive to the Classroom
This article discusses an approach to teaching early modern women’s writing that uses book history and formalism as its main tools. It argues that digital editions of the poetry of Mary Wroth, Hester Pulter, and Margaret Cavendish enable new ways to study these works. Paul Salzman’s Wroth edition places different versions of the same poem (including digitized images of the holograph manuscript) side by side, which shows how a misreading of her first sonnet occurred. The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making is producing multiple editions of Hester Pulter’s 120 poems, plus additional “curations” that bring contextual materials, including poems by male writers, into dialogue with the poems. Close readings of Pulter’s poems demonstrate a poet of formal sophistication. Liza Blake’s edition of Margaret Cavendish’s Poems and Fancies highlights material issues by offering detailed textual notes that compare the three very different printed versions. Her digital edition also suggests pathways for formalist analysis, such as proposing Cavendish as a metaphysical poet, as does the work of Lara Dodds, which suggests we embrace Cavendish’s supposed “bad writing.” After a brief analysis of Cavendish’s generically experimental Sociable Letters, this article turns to a recent example of recovery research in the discovery of Dorothy Calthorpe’s manuscripts and ends by suggesting future trends in the field. These include analyzing known works from multiple perspectives and studying a wider range of sources that more accurately reflects early modern conceptions of authorship.
Burke, Victoria E.
"Unconventional Experiments: Teaching Early Modern Women Writers,"
Criticism: Vol. 63
, Article 13.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/criticism/vol63/iss1/13