Women's Literary Creativity and the Female Body by Diane Long Hoeveler, Donna Decker Schuster

By Diane Long Hoeveler, Donna Decker Schuster

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Boston: G. K. Hall, 1983. Harvey, Tamara. “‘Now Sisters . . ” Early American Literature 35 (2000): 5–28. Hensley, Jeannine, ed. The Works of Anne Bradstreet. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1967. Homans, Margaret. ” Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. , 1998, pp. 650–55. Hughes, Walter. ” Engendering Men: The Question of Male Feminist Criticism. New York: Routledge, 1990, pp. 102–21. Kopacz, Paula. ” Kentucky Philological Review 2 (1987): 21–29.

As in many of her other poems, Bradstreet here stresses the pleasures of eternity based on secular/ physical life (the literal) rather than her preoccupation with the state of the soul and the ultimate victory of the spirit (the figurative) over the body (the literal), which most male poets in their search for the divine love tend to do. Her idea of an afterlife is strongly concerned with the senses and grounded in the power of earthly love for her spouse. For Bradstreet, eternal life makes sense only when it is preceded by human feelings and the warmth of the body.

The familiar argument unscrolls: a woman finds her voice and talent only when she writes about herself, her woman’s life; this life excludes politics, science, history, public affairs, intellectual achievement, learning. All these are ceded to men. (23) Around the same time as Baym’s essay (2001), Tamara Harvey (2000) and Patricia Pender (2001) published two comprehensive articles. Harvey and Pender have found Bradstreet’s 1650s Tenth Muse inspiring enough to make elaborate and well-supported arguments about how poems such as “A Dialogue Between Old England and New,” “In Honour of Queen Elizabeth,” and “Of the Four Humours” are both artistically challenging and independent of “the literary tradition [Bradstreet] inherits in several important aspects” (Pender, 115).

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