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Title: Genre in exile : Margaret Cavendish's writings of the 1650s
Author: Rees, Emma L. E.
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 1997
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In this study I aim to show how, and why, in terms of Margaret Cavendish's life in the 1650s, `genre', `exile', and `politics', specifically royalism, are inseparable literary-historical constructs. In the introduction and first chapter, I elucidate my title - `Genre in Exile: Margaret Cavendish's Writings of the 1650s' - exploring its constituent parts, and their repercussionsfo r my project as a whole. I consider in my introduction different ways of thinking about genre, and delineate a model which is productive in examining Cavendish's work, as well as investigating how genrew as understoodi n the mid-seventeenthc entury. Further, I position my study in relation to other critical assessmentso f Cavendish and her work, both contemporary and modern. In Chapter 1, I formulate for Cavendish a `triple exile', arguing that she was banished not only legislatively, but additionally because of her desire to be a writing woman, and because of her continued engagement with an anti-Puritan theatrical aesthetic. I use the paratextual theories of Girard Genette to examine how, in material and spatial terms, this triple exile is registered in Cavendish's publications of the 1650s. I briefly provide a biographical background for Cavendisha nd her associatesin that decade,a nd I ask what it meanst o have genre `in' exile, that is, how it may be sent into, adapted from within, or be retrievedf rom, a stateo f banishmentb, e that legislativeo r analogous. In my second chapter, I examine the influence of the Epicurean writing of the Imperial Roman Lucretius on Cavendish's first published work, Poems, and 3 Fancies, and how that influence facilitated her earliest self-representationa s a writer with the desire to publish. Cavendish's culturally subversive movement into print is expedited by her adoption of Lucretian generic modes. In the third chapter, Platonic generic ideals are focused on as being central to the brief yet recondite prosep assageH, eavensL ibrary. An applicationa nd extensiono f such idealst o the entire volume in which they appear, Natures Pictures, indicates that such a reading and utilization of genre may promote the most acute political commentary. In such a discussion, Cavendish's notional readership is important, since it is readerly generic expectation which is being manipulated. The focus of the study remains on Natures Pictures for the fourth chapter, which once more looks to the Ancients as a source for Cavendish's generic operations. In Assaulted and Pursued Chastity, she negotiates a path between Greek romance and epic in her assertion of a woman's autonomy and concomitant ability to rule, which metonymically figures as the author's own desire for power over the text she indites. For the fifth chapter of this study, I return to Poems, and Fancies, this time in a reading of The Animall Parliament as a text which incorporates both ancient and seventeenth-centuryd iscoursesa bout the human body, fashioning from them an intrepid defence of monarchical rule. In my sixth chapter I move the focus of the study beyond the Restoration in an examination of how Cavendish's relationship with genre and creativity, mapped during the Interregnum, developed once the monarch was restored and the impetus for political subversion had largely passed. Cavendish's volume of Orations (1662) is briefly discussed, as well as her two volumes of plays (1662 and 1668), her CCXI Sociable Letters (1664), and her Description of a New World Called The 4 Blazing World (1666). In a brief conclusion, I return to the `triple exile' in an assessment of the rehabilitative potential such a project as this may have in terms of Cavendish studies more generally.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature