Ellinghausen 2008

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Ellinghausen, Laurie. Labor and Writing in Early Modern England, 1567-1667. Burlington: Ashgate, 2008.

1. "Tis all I have": Print Authorship and Occupational Identity in Isabella Whitney's A Sweet Nosgay

"Nascent print capitalism, along with the inreasingly widespread presence of wage labor, leads authors who adopt the persona of the laborer to express a sense that not only is their text a commodity, but they themselves are commodities in a socioeconomic landscape where everyone fits in according to his or her usefulness, or lack of it. Furthermore, the markets for print and labor prompt these authors to experience themselves s detached from their own texts. Reclaiming one's own textual labor, then, represents an attempt to reclaim the virtues and the content of the text itself -- that is to say, the process by which the text came into being." (17)
"Perhaps the feeling of separation from one's own product comes most easily for the early modern woman writer, whose experience of the print market accompanies an awareness of patriarchal cultural discourses that condition social and economic disempowerment." (17)
"Whitney's relationship to her literary labor suggests that a notion of professional authorship could also be formulated by deploying cultural discourses -- not only those concerning print, but discourses of marriage and domesticity -- and locating oneself in the spaces in between." (18)

emphasizes not the community but the "aloneness evident in Whitney's self-presentation as a woman without 'a Husband, or a house'" (19)

"isolation is at least as important to her allusions to past and present communities" (19)
"On the one hand, her position enables her to conceive of a kind of literary invention that affirms and makes use of her newly 'masterless' position and all its attendant misfortunes. Yet paradoxically, she also finds that her status as a marketplace producer ultimately conditions a sense of alienation from the community and even from her own public. The putatively 'ree' solitary laborer persists into the next section, where her isolated state faces harder tests." (25)