Contradictions in Cavendish: An exploration of gender obstacles in "Of the Style of this Book"

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Issue Date
2023-04-14
Embargo End Date
Authors
Hemberger, Kaitlyn
Smith, Journey
Hall, Kyle
Porter, Jaryd
Advisor
Lanning, Katie
Citation

Hemberger, Kaitlyn; Smith, Journey; Hall, Kyle; Porter, Jaryd. 2023. Contradictions in Cavendish: An exploration of gender obstacles in "Of the Style of this Book". -- In Proceedings: 19th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects. Wichita, KS: Wichita State University

Abstract

Throughout the seventeenth century, Lady Margaret Cavendish published extensively across literary categories in a print culture controlled and dominated by men. This research explores what would regularly be an act of hubris and privilege in her time if not for her contradictory stance in her poem "Of the Style of this Book" from her book Poems and Fancies. In the piece, she openly apologizes for her lack of attention to form and tendency towards whims called "fancies;" however, through careful choices in her language and structure, she concurrently rejects and defends her work and further her right to publish as a woman, creating intentional confusion about her intentions as social protection. That is, Cavendish hides herself behind layers of ambiguity in order to safely hold two equally radical but contradictory identities. Through an analysis of her non-conventional adjectival use, gender presentation, the social and physical status of exile, and influence on later literary periods, researchers scrutinize Cavendish's unique impact on future women writers' freedom to publish and overall freedom to influence literature and other traditionally masculine spaces.

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Description
Presented to the 19th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects (GRASP) held at the Rhatigan Student Center, Wichita State University, April 14, 2023.
Research completed in the Department of English, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
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