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Final Review Questions

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Sylvia Brown

Review Questions for English 390 FOUR of these questions will comprise the final exam; you will be asked to write on TWO. Each of the questions asks you to discuss at least two of the women writers we studied. You may use the same woman writer in two of your answers, but make sure to say different things about her (don’t reuse and recycle; build and expand). Overall you should discuss a minimum of three different women writers in your exam answers. But remember this is a minimum! I strongly encourage you to include more. I will be available in my office (Humanities Centre 3-45) on Friday 10 December 12:00-1:00 and Monday 13 December 12:00-1:00. At that times you can pick up graded assignments and ask questions relating to your revision for the exam (I won’t, though, tell you how to answer a given question). Our final exam will be held in our regular classroom, Humanities Centre 2- 26, on Tuesday 14 December, 9:00-11:00. 1.How might we define an ‘early modern feminism’? Articulate a definition that seems to you to work for the early modern period, and then discuss the lives and writings of at least two of the women we studied to test how far we might venture to call them ‘feminist’. - Wroth’s “Love Victorie”: her writing suggests that women should have more agency when choosing a husband. At the time parents, aunts, uncles, and even the King would choose a husband for a woman. She had very little influence in the decision, her suitor would usually be chosen based on status and wealth: things which would progress the family in court. Love was rarely a thing that could be considered in marriage. - maybe compare Wroth and Cavendish (find out more about her husband and their life together) 2.Discuss one of more of the following as shaping forces on early modern women’s writing: marital status, social status, religious belief, political affiliation. Take your examples from at least two of the women writers we studied. - Anne Clifford: wrote in order to fight for her right to her father’s inheritance. If she did not have this experience, would she have ever written in the first place? Is there any evidence supporting that she had intended for her writing to be published? - Wroth: it is possible that she wrote Love’s Victory as a childish fantasy, to create a world in which she could rebel against the social institution of marriage. At the time, your family would decide on your husband. It was widely known that Wroth hated her husband and that she had developed an (unhealthy?) interest in her cousin. If we consider the possibility that Musella is Wroth and that Philip is her cousin, it would seem that she is creating a world in which SHE could chose her husband and marry for LOVE. Unlike Clifford, there is no question as to whether or not she would have written other works if she had never experienced this unrequited love which seems central to Love’s Victorie. Wroth comes from a very influential family, her aunt and uncle were both prominent writers of their times. Her uncle appears to be the key to her literary development. I would argue that even if she had been happily married, she would have found other things to write about because she would not have been able to ignore her literary skills and ambitions. It was impossible for a woman to have any real power and status in court, by this I mean that without a wealthy and prominent husband, women would never amount to very much. Wroth’s dedication and determination implies that she was desperate for popularity, she wrote in ways which women had never done before. She is one of the first women to write of Love through a woman’s perspective, where the woman is the aggressive pursuer of a male lover. 3.How do women writers relate to other women as patrons, friends, lovers, or models for their own writing and agency? Are the women writers we studied always interested in the empowerment of other women? Discuss at least two of the women writers we studied. - Anne Clifford: seems almost, disinterested in other women. Her diary presents a cool and calculated woman who is determined to do nothing but save her inheritance. She appeals to her mother for support during her battle and after she dies it would appear that she is one against many. She appeals to her husband and tries to convince him that he should support her in her fight. She vows to leave her fortune to him because she has no heirs of her own, which is odd because she had daughters at this time. Not claiming her daughters as the rightful heirs to her own fortune contradicts the claim she has to her father’s inheritance. This makes it difficult to determine the motivation behind fighting so desperately for the money, how can she have a claim to her inheritance when she believes her daughters have no claim to hers? Could this suggest that she is now trying everything in her power to convince her husband, even though she thinks all hope is lost? - Aemilia Lanyer: a con artist or a capable writer creating a community of women? She appeals to the "Good Christians" through her numerous allusions and recollections of divine beings. She is so audacious as to claim that her writing was the word of God, that she was divinely visited and touched by God. She dedicated a large portion of her poetry to women, of nobility and power. At the time, writers would send a copy of their work, which included the dedication, to the dedicatee. And in return for being graced and honoured in such a way, the dedicatee would normally send the writer a small "tip" in thanks. Patronage is key in this time, all writers were aware of their patrons. Patrons might award their agents with hospitality: social invitations or even accommodations. Being seen alongside powerful patrons would afford writers familiarity with people in higher social status’ a
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