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Nation and Nurture in Seventeenth-Century English Literature$
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Rachel Trubowitz

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199604739

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199604739.001.0001

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Nursing Mothers and National Identity

Nursing Mothers and National Identity

(p.34) 1 Nursing Mothers and National Identity
Nation and Nurture in Seventeenth-Century English Literature

Trubowitz Rachel

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores why the revalued figure of the nursing mother has political and religious appeal for both Reformers and traditionalists. The new mother's equivocal valences find diverse expression in Puritan domestic guidebooks, humanist treatises, Elizabeth Clinton's The Countess of Lincolns Nurserie, and early modern engravings such as The power of women by Jan Wiernix. Drawing on biblical models of motherhood (including Sarah and Mary) and on both old-and-new scientific observations about maternal nature, these wide-ranging texts and visual images incoherently describe maternal nurture as sacred, secular, natural, spiritual, vocational, humoral, and empirically understandable, all at the same time. This chapter lays the groundwork for the book's argument that the reformed figure of the nurturing mother ambiguously mediates between old-and-new paradigms of English national identity.

Keywords:   nurture, nature, divinity, body, spirit, theory of humors, empiricism, biblical exegesis

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