Early Modern Women Writers and World Order

Where did women writers working between the sixteenth to eighteenth century fit in a world ordered and controlled by men? Ben Wilkinson-Turnbull’s lecture explores this issue and gives an overview of the sort of writing women wrote to comply with, and even challenge, the patriarchal society in which they lived. Ben begins by explaining the place and role of women in this society, before moving on to consider how these societal expectations affected their ability to write and publish their work. They then introduce examples of important female authors and texts from the period to demonstrate the rich array of genres in which women worked. After considering the literary legacy of the first woman of colour to publish a volume of poems in English, the lecture concludes with a discussion of why studying these writers continues to matter in the twenty-first century. 

Ben Wilkinson-Turnbull<br>
Ben Wilkinson-Turnbull

Ben Wilkinson-Turnbull is a DPhil student and Clarendon Scholar at Mansfield College, University of Oxford. His doctoral research focuses on the materiality of women’s writing between 1580 and 1760. The varied methods of textual production employed by women writers means much work remains to be done in understanding the material forms (paper, fabric, stone, metal, and hybrids of the above) used to produce and circulate their works. By comparing women’s textual practices to those of their male contemporaries his thesis demonstrates the underappreciated aesthetic complexity of women’s writing, explores new forms of textual transmission, and aims to improve our understanding of how form affects meaning. You can read more about Ben Wilkinson-Turnbull and his research here.

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