16/03/2016 Politics, Literature and Ideas in Stuart England

Politics, Literature and Ideas in Stuart England
How important was religion in influencing female authorship?
Political Influences:
Civil War created challenges to political ideologies from both men and women
Voices stopped by the Restoration?
Smith and Gallagher: Connection between Royalism and Proto-Feminism
Use of letters to create networks of opposition
Cross Over between Political and Religious influences:
Hilary Hinds – Religion as the foundation of politics, therefore any political writings are also
religiously motivated
Elaine Hobbys – Belief in the end of days meant that women (and men previously excluded) were
included in political debates. Justification from Bible: ‘I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy’ (Acts 2:17)
Religious Influences:
Large proportion of female authorship came from the Baptists, the fifth monarchists, Independents
and Quakers.
Large range of religiously inspired texts: prophecy, spiritual autobiography, conversion narrative,
scriptural commentaries and general exhortations, warnings and advice
Mack - as 300 female prophets active between 1640-1660.
Rooted in Scripture and related to contemporary circumstances with political aims
Example titles: Priscilla Cotton and Mary Cole’s ‘TO the Priest and People of England’ (1655), Grace
Barwick’s ‘To all present Rulers (1659), and Hester Biddles’ ‘A Warning from the Lord God’ (1676).
Spiritual Autobiographies:
Not an autobiography of life events (births, deaths, marriages) but of matters of faith and doctrine
Lady Eleanor Douglas in sixty tracts between 1625-1652 interpreted her own life through Bible
promises to God’s nation of Zion.
Susanna Parr’s Susanna’s Apologie Against the Elders (1659) – use of emotional event to create a
political message through religious imagery
Secular Texts:
Topics in the Female Tatler: gossip, edification, Masquerade, talking airs, decorum, celebrity,
conversation/wit, women’s beauty, men’s beauty and fashionability, Marriage and courtship, the
war of the Sex.
Topics Discussed by Cavendish: also scientific, social status, relations amongst men and women and
between women, and romance (with secular treatment).
Feroli, Teresa, Political speaking justified: women prophets and the English Revolution (Delaware,
Hinds, Hilary, God’s Englishwomen: Seventeenth-Century Radical Sectarian Writing and Feminist
Criticism (Manchester, 1996).
Hobby, Elaine, ‘Prophecy, enthusiasm and female pamphleteers’, in N.H.Keeble (eds), The
Cambridge Companion to Writing of the English Revolution (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 162-78.
Wiseman, Susan, 'Women's Poetry' in N.H.Keeble (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Writing of the
English Revolution (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 127-47.