Hearty congrats to the 2010 winners of the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women’s Awards! The winners of the 2011 Early Modern Women’s Society Awards will be announced on October 20, 2011. Here are this year’s winners.


EMW is now seeking submissions for many awards. Any work that analyzes women and gender in early modern Europe is eligible (1450-1750).

To submit a work for the 2011 awards, send three copies to the EMW Awards Committee chair by January 1, 2012.

a year’s best book award

Mary Sidney and Margaret P. Hannay (Ashgate Press, 2010)

A scholarly biography of one of early modern England’s most influential female writers, Margaret P. Hannay. Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth is a masterfully sewn blend of historical, archival, and literary materials. It’s hard to think that much information can be jammed into one book, but Hannay manages it in her prose romance, Urania.

Her investigation of early seventeenth-century English literary output and culture, as well as politics, will benefit a wide range of readers. The author has discovered various facts that she utilizes to gently correct past scholarship errors and preconceptions.

Despite this, she leaves the narrative open-ended, providing for the possibility of discovering more about Wroth. To the extent that Hannay uses and examines the Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth bibliography, it becomes even more valuable.

Women, Writing, and Language in Early Modern Ireland (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Innovative contributions to the study of early modern women. Coolahan analyzes well-known and little-studied works by and about early modern Irish women authors. An excellent theorist, she presents a convincing argument for women’s authorship during that historical period.

The committee was impressed by the book’s good mix of historical background and rhetorical/narratological analysis. It addresses concerns of religion, language, and nation in early modern Irish women’s writing.


Proposal for Joint Work

editors Caroline Bicks and Jennifer Summit

Volume 2: 1500-1610 of British Women Writers (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)

Women’s “everyday interactions with the written word” are described as a “social history” in this book (4). This book uses current discoveries on women’s writing and literacy in the early modern period. Writers emphasize the value of writing as a way of communicating ideas, thoughts, and information.

During this crucial period of literary evolution, a vast variety of genres emerged, some inside the traditional literary canon, others not. This book’s concept of “literary endeavor” encompasses both big-genre authors’ achievements and those achieved in a more collaborative and community setting.

The volume’s introduction provides extensive information on the academic movements that led to this study. The volume’s cohesiveness does not hide the authors’ diverse methods and conclusions. This kind of study needs a variety of academic ideas and methodologies.

Anthology analyzes the relevance and production of geography, idiom, and culture in addition to conventionally feminist topics of race, class, and gender. This historic work will help reassess early modern literacy and the role of women in a new literary society.

The editors of the Josephine A. Roberts Scholarly Edition get the award.

1626-1659, Countess of Leicester Dorothy Percy Sidney’s Letters

Early Modern Englishwoman 1500-1750, ed. Betty S. Travitsky and Anne Lake Prescott (Ashgate 2010)

There has never been a more comprehensive, meticulously researched, and minutely detailed edition of Dorothy Percy Sidney’s correspondence than this one by Brennan, Kinnamon, and Hannay, the experienced editorial team (editors of writings by Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, as well as by Robert Sidney, first Earl of Leicester, and Barbara Gamage Sidney, Countess of Leicester).

In the lengthy introduction, major chronological and thematic sections include childhood, courtship, early married life, and family ties, the 1620s/40s court politics, Dorothy Percy Sidney’s writing, and the Sidney complex fortune throughout the English Civil Wars and Commonwealth (with moving commentary by her husband, brother, and son at the time of her death).

The various reader aids, whether early (family trees, chronologies, and an amusingly helpful remark on the problem of keeping family names straight) or late (a list of individuals and locations), are at least as valuable as the perfectly produced letters. The letters themselves provide a plethora of information, particularly in the 1640s and 1650s, when the English and Irish administrations were at odds over land ownership. His father’s participation in the 1683 Rye House massacre has been questioned.

“Nearly little attention has been devoted to his mother’s role in establishing his first political beliefs,” the editors remark, departing from their rigid policy of editorial assistance without interference.

This is because her rising role in her family’s domestic and political life began in the 1630s. We think this collection of her writings will cover a large information gap about Sidney and political history. We hope so.

A Woman Who Defends All Persons of Her Sex: Selected Philosophical and Moral Writings, edited by Domna Stanton and Rebecca Wilkin (University of Chicago Press, 2010).

Information about intellectual life and the position of women in the Ancien RĂ©gime will interest scholars as well as pupils.

That it restores the work gives a new perspective on gender in Louis XIV’s day.

A brief historical and cultural overview of Suchon’s work is provided on the introductory page.

It’s helpful to have the notes to refer to when dealing with the usual issues that arise.

Debate: Christine de Pizan, edited by David F. Hult (University of Chicago Press, 2010).

As an undergraduate, I thought Hult’s information presentation was elegant but not too extensive, and his introduction was ideal.

For the translation, several Rose-related articles were compiled so readers may view Christine’s contributions in context with other original materials.

This pleased the committee. For a fuller understanding of her work and the debate’s implications for gendered identities, use this strategy. Loudness seems to be readily taught.

One of the few volumes in which male and female voices are contrasted. The “woman problem” was an integral component of mainstream academic discourse during this period, and should be reminded to students and scholars alike.


Essay or Article:

Prose Studies 32.3 (December 2010): 167-168.

An intriguing look into women’s catechism development and use by women, including the little-known Dorothy Burch. A vivid picture of Burch’s Puritan Kent setting is painted by McQuade’s focus on “the characteristics that allowed Burch… to engage in early modern print culture.

” With the use of local archival materials including county histories and public records, taxation lists, and churchwardens’ accounts, McQuade introduces and makes legitimately ambitious claims about Dorothy Burch’s 1649 Catechism.

McQuade remembers Margaret Ezell’s fundamental essay on writing women’s literary history to re-inquire, over 20 years later, “why we, as critics, have waited so long to incorporate such texts.” An amazing mastery of sources, logic, and language by McQuade.

“Babies on Board: Women, Children, and Imperial Policy in the Spanish Empire,” Gender and History 22.2 (August 2010): 269-83.

Enlightenment administrator Jorge Astraudi miraculously relocated Spanish families from Galicia to Patagonia in South America in the 18th century.

With Astraudi’s help, the 1921 men, women, and children he accompanied were well taken care of from “nappies” to a fathers’ revolt against the Spanish government over nursing and infant nutrition. Poska frames her archival report in three ways.

Prior European family migration programs were also discussed. Assuring colonial (and racial) control over “heathen and hostile Indians” by official interference in “domestic governance” and improving and controlling populations are only a few of the supposed benefits of such plans.

Finally, she compares the Spanish plan to newer plans from France, the Netherlands, and Portugal. Given Poska’s non-ideological judgment of the Patagonian project’s originality and devotion, her case is strong.

Arts and Media:

As part of the ensemble that featured director Laury Gutierrez, soprano Julianne Baird, and contralto Renee Rapier, she was recognized.


This CD, recorded by an ensemble devoted to early modern female composers and virtuosos, introduces current audiences to Anna Bon’s musical oeuvre. Again, this collection of arias, divertimenti, and sonatas show the ensemble’s strong roots in the intellectual and archival worlds.

The liner notes and translations seek to explain nineteenth-century musical composition to the broader audience. Among the album’s exquisite vocal creations are Julianne Baird and Renee Rapier.

This period’s music is enriched by historically informed ornamentation and careful structuring of the melody line.

5 Oct 2011

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