Jones 1990

From Whiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Jones, Ann Rosalind. The Currency of Eros: Women's Love Lyric in Europe, 1540-1620. Bloomington: University of Illinois Press, 1990.

"argues that female poets were able to write and to publish because they drew upon certain potentially productive contradictions in early modern culture" (1)

  • "mixed message about writing itself. Ideological pressures worked against their entry into the public world of print: female silence was equated with chastity, female eloquence with promiscuity"
  • "the history of the love lyric provided only male models to women poets" -- "the amorous discourses available to them -- had been constructed by male writers, who represented women a the silent objects of love rather than its active, articulate pursuers"

"Women poets made themselves heard through the gridwork of gender rules and lyric tradition." (2)

drawing on Marxist cultural studies concept of negotiation -- the "range of interpretative positions through which subordinated groups respond to the assumptions encoded into dominant cultural forms and systems fo representation" (2)

"This book, then, studies negotiations between two complex institutions: the mixed gender ideologies produced by political and social transformations in early modern Europe, and the network of classical, early Renaissance and ontemporary texts composing the discursive territory of sixteenth-century love poetry." (3)

Stuart Hall, 3 possible "viewer" positions -- dominant/hegemonic, negotiated ("accepts teh dominant ideologyencoded into a text but particularizes and transforms it in the service of a different group" (4); oppositional (5)

  • hard to read women as oppositional, since their work was governed by men in most spheres; low literacy rates; conduct books

The Mirror, the Distaff, the Pen

"To imagine a woman as a carrier of class values and to produce her through family training, educational practices, and social rituals was to demonstrate to society at large the control the men of a particular social group had over their daughters and wives, a control often contrasted to the negligence or impotence attributed to fathers and husbands elsewhere in the social hierarchy." (12)

women poets' texts "are strategies for maneuvering within restrictions and turning the contradictions among different discourses of femininity to their own advantage" (15)

on the one hand, conduct books; on the other, the enabling discourse of defenses of women, Christine de Pizan, and Ovidian heroines

Writing to Live: Pedagogical Poetics in Isabella Whitney and Catherine des Roches

both Whitney and Roches -- "Their intention of winning a large audience can be seen in the maneuvers through which they produced an unimpeachably chaste and carefully popularized love poetry. Both poets were bricoleuses, improvisatory jugglers of materials they found already in place in their culture: they recombined didactic and lyric genres in new ways to guarantee the respectability of their texts. But their need to profit from their writing also led them to less conformist strategies. By constructing newly active speaking positions, they transformed the roles assigned to women in the Ovidian and Neoplatonic modes they inherited from an androcentric literary system; and they wrote to and for women as a group." (36-7)


"Altogether, her narrative of her preliminary reading establishes the persona of a practical and modest woman who has taken on serious books but always with a sense of her own limits." (39)
"by setting Plat's prose aphorisms into verse, Whitney appears to be working in the tradition of women as translators, serving a male writer's text rather than producing a new one. But her 'makeing up' of the prose mottoes in fact adds a great deal to them:; lively rhythm, memorable rhyme, a colloquial energy lacking in the original. Whitney also adds pro-woman modifications to Plat's proverbs on gender relations." (41) -- see Floure 74, 63, 66; "decenters the masculine perspective" (42)
"A Sweet Nosgay is original because Whitney inserts complaints about her poverty and illnness into an emerging literary mode, the Ovidian lament, and joins to that mixture a set of responses from friends who are capable of writing presentably salable rhymed epistels." (42-3)
"Whitney makes her Nosgay into a three-way intersection of literary genres in order to characterize herself as an unfortunate but virtuous woman writer, energetically engaged with her family and friends and enlightened by ancient counsels of wisdom in adversity." (43)
"Taken together, Whitney's poems show how a woman writer could revise the subject positions of Ovidian tradition by drawing sixteenth-century demands upon women into both the thematic and performative levels of her lyrcis: she writes about the good woman in the persona of a good woman. She also writes with a constant alertness to a double public: the male readers her publisher invites to buy A Sweet Nosgay and an audience of women likely to appreciate her confident self-representation and subversive humor." Whitney composes for groups; in the Nosgay, in fact, she composes as a member of a group, building the responses of her friends and family into her [52] collection. She works outside the category of poet as solitary genius, a a status to which postromantic critical opinion has assigned canonized writers in a serious misunderstanding of the common literary practice of the Renaissance. Whitney demonstrates the networks of need and appeal, of creative accommodation and subtle critique, through which women poets (like men) constructed texts acceptable to the system of gender expectations and publishing practices that governed early modern writing." (51 [last word on 52])