Klein 1997

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Klein, Lisa. "Your Humble Handmaid: Elizabethan Gifts of Needlework." Renaissance Quarterly 50.2 (Summer 1997): 459-493.

"The gifts bestowed by handmaids (and male subjectS) ingratiate in order to empower; but while the gift pressures hierarchy, it ultimately reaffirms and reinforces it. Inherent contradictions thus mark the gift exchange: [462] a gift is free, yet coercive; it engenders a reciprocal relationship, but the exchanges are seldom equal. Elizabeth was aware of and able to manipulate these tensions as she participated in gift occasions, both as a humble handmaid presenting needleworks to her superiors and as the powerful queen receiving them from her subjects." (461-2)

"Because gifts of embroideries figured prominently in the inventories, we ought to consider how these material artifacts helped to solidify social relations involving the wmoen who made and presented them." (462)

Wendy Wall, sonnets exchanged between men solidified male relationships through the fiction of the female mistress/reader; "my attention to needleworked gifts, by contrast, shows women as active participants in cultural exchange, using their material objects to forge alliances. The examples in this essay demonstrate that subordinated subjects as well as the queen were able to manipulate the occasions of gift-giving to promote self-interested social relations. Women were adept at using their status as handmaids, together with the signifying potential of their hand-made embroideries, in ways that were empowering as well as expressive." (462)

"The many instances of hand-wrought gifts remind us that women did enter the arena of cultural production, where they promoted their interests and praised the monarch, although less through writing than through their work with the needle." (462)
"while the destructiont hat characterized potlatch events is absent from the Elizabethan rituals, a kind of ruination could attend such excessive spending on gifts." (463)
"Ladies of the chamber presented hand-wrought scarves, handkershiefs, and bodices, evidence that their spare hours were also devoted to the queen's service." (463)
"gift-giving became a way for subjects to wield power by attempting to make the queen obliged to them." (466) -- the "symbolic violence" (Bourdieu) of the gift

gift giving is "a social exchange which, unlike eonomic exchange, entails unspecified obligations" (468)

subject always owed the queen, even if she didn't reciprocate

Bess -- in ill favor with the queen in 1575, asked around to find a suitable gift she would like (470-471)

Elizabeth likes embroidered gifts; "The popularity of richly embroidered personal gifts ahs been attributed to her female fanity and her extravagant taste. While not denying these traits, I submit that a personal gift such as an embroidered dress or book is particularly appropriate for fostering the mutual obligation that was the aim of the gift exchange. A hand-wrought gift has a particular intimacy, authority, and efficacy that other gifts, like money or plate, lack." (471)

ahnd made gifts -- "the value of objects arises from social, not simply material, relations" (472)

Matthew Parker's book, embroidered cover: front is closed in fence with a rose bush, punning on his name; back the fence is open, with a hare and vulnerable deer inside; subtle suggestion that Elizabeth maintain her church (473)

"Many women who presented gifts drew attention to their handiwork as a way of softening the monarch's heart." (475)
"These various hand-made works -- Esther Inglis's book, Mary's skirt, Arbella's gloves, and Pemboke's poems -- had a unique capacity to evoke the giver, her hands occupied in painstaking and loving labor and out-stretched in an attitude of presentation, devotion, or supplication." (476)

Elizabeth herself gave four such hand-wrought gifts as a girl -- Navarre translation for her stepmother; stepmother's prayers for her father another manuscript cover for Parr

pansies on the cover; "it is generally assumed thtthe pansy was simply a favorite flower of elizabeth, bearing no partiular significance. But it was so frequently associated with her that it must have been a signature flower, like the eglantine." (478) -- lists items/poems associaing Elizabeth with pansies

title of E1's translation mirrors a translation by her great-grandmother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, The Myrour of Golde for th eSynfull Soule (1506); "by invoking her exemplary great-grandmother, Elizabeth indirectly asserted her own Tudor credentials while also acknowledging her duty to her current stepmother." (479)

"By her design, Elizabeth sought visually to reasure Kathering of her protected place as Henry's beloved wife at the same time that she poignantly alluded to her own marginalized identity b depicting the four pansies outside the design of interlaced knots enclosing Katherine's initials." (481)

Elizabeth used her connection with Katerhine to mend her relationship with her father (482)

"By her embroidered gifts, Elizabeth carefully affirmed, while gently manipulating, the social hierarchies in which she was embedded." (482)
"A gift of needlework allowed the giver a moment of elaborate, often complex self-presentation that was at once personal and social, and often political as well." (483)

Goldberg -- "while the woman's hand was engaged in appropriate activity, copying religious texts or wielding a needle, it was also becoming empowered and gaining for the writer/needleworker a valued interiority" (483)

"As professional work, done largely by male guild members, the craft of needlework was becoming subordinated to the fine arts. It was also becoming work associated with women, who were progressively isolated from public activity in their domestic spheres. Yet it is a perfect example of women's agency in the reproduction of culture, particularly, as I have argued, in the exchange of gifts. While women didn't offer their lives to the queen's service, the spoils of piracy to her coffers, or their poetic masterworks to her everlating memory, they did present gifts, especially of needlework." (484)
"Women planned, executed and presented gifts of needlework as essays in self-promotion; by their self-interested prestations, they sought to foster familial or patronage relationships, to fulfill and create obligations, and to fashion themselves as subjects, participating fully in the socially and politically significant occasions of gift exchange.' (484-5)