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Verse, voice, and body: the retirement mode and women's poetry 1680-1723

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This essay explores the variety of ways in which women poets reworked the central features of the retirement genre and used the concept of withdrawal as a means of creating a feminine poetics. In particular, it will argue that while on the surface poetry of retreat might appear conservative and restricting through its associations with privacy, enclosure and exile, it is paradoxically these very features that enable a fundamental reshaping of feminine subjectivity together with a reformulation of women’s conventional identification with the body. In this, I follow Judith Butler’s concept of the body as being ‘itself a construction’, not just a medium from which ‘a set of cultural meanings are only externally related’ (8). The reframing of the body and how it is understood is therefore essentially tied to a fundamental reframing of identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5.1-5.44
JournalEarly Modern Literary Studies
Volume12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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