Women's Work in Early Modern English Literature and Culture

Hardcover | March 15, 2009

byMichelle Dowd

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WINNER OF THE 2009 NWSA SARA A. WHALEY BOOK AWARD!! 

This enlightening book investigates literature’s engagement with the social and gendered conflicts of early modern England by examining the narratives that seventeenth-century dramatists and women writers created to describe the lives of working women. Analyzing texts by such authors as William Shakespeare, Hannah Woolley, Thomas Heywood, Anne Clifford, and others, Dowd considers several types of work—including service, wetnursing, and housework—that changed significantly during the seventeenth century, generating new literary formulations of women’s economic, political, and religious authority.  These narratives served a crucial social function, namely to construe and define the limits of female subjectivity within a shifting and contested labor economy.  This original study attests not only to the social significance of women’s work during this period, but also more broadly to the dynamic force of fictional narrative in early modern England.

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WINNER OF THE 2009 NWSA SARA A. WHALEY BOOK AWARD!! This enlightening book investigates literature’s engagement with the social and gendered conflicts of early modern England by examining the narratives that seventeenth-century dramatists and women writers created to describe the lives of working women. Analyzing texts by such authors ...

Michelle M. Dowd is Associate Professor & Director of Graduate Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  She is the co-editor of Genre and Women’s Life Writing in Early Modern England (2007) and has published numerous essays on early modern drama and women’s writing.   

other books by Michelle Dowd

The Dynamics of Inheritance on the Shakespearean Stage
The Dynamics of Inheritance on the Shakespearean Stage

Kobo ebook|May 19 2015

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.75 inPublished:March 15, 2009Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230613454

ISBN - 13:9780230613454

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"Dowd has written a rewarding, well-researched study of the ways social conditions, social mobility, gender, and literary culture interacted in early modern England."--Studies in English Literature "Throughout Women's Work in Early Modern English Literature and Culture, Dowd elucidates how the stories of women as workers helped to make women culturally legible in a book at once readable and compelling."  --Renaissance Quarterly "Dowd makes an extremely valuable and strongly feminist addition to the field of early modern studies of gender, economics, and culture, since she shows with great specificity how stories about work served surprisingly often to extend women's sense of themselves and their own potential."  --Shakespeare Quarterly“In this richly drawn and fascinating study, Dowd makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the variegated forms of early modern women’s working lives during a period of enormous social, religious, and economic change…By juxtaposing texts written by and about female servants, midwives, and educators, she affords her readers multiple perspectives on working women as both subjects and objects of discourse.”—Natasha Korda, Associate Professor of English and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Wesleyan University“Dowd offers an innovative reading of women’s work…with its careful attention to the various ways in which the efforts of female workers appeared in early modern texts, Women’s Work advances our understanding of the relation between literary form and social content during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.”--Douglas Bruster, The University of Texas at Austin and author of Shakespeare and the Question of Culture“Both careful and provocative, Women's Work in Early Modern English Literature and Culture advances our understanding of the complexly intertwined histories of women, work, social change, and literary form.”--Frances E. Dolan, author of Marriage and Violence: The Early Modern Legacy