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Forms of EngagementWomen, Poetry and Culture 1640-1680$
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Elizabeth Scott-Baumann

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199676521

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199676521.001.0001

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Introduction: Reading, Gender, and Form

Introduction: Reading, Gender, and Form

(p.1) Introduction: Reading, Gender, and Form
Forms of Engagement

Elizabeth Scott-Baumann

Oxford University Press

This introduces the book's central questions of how reading affects authorship and how both are gendered in the seventeenth century. The mid-seventeenth century saw fertile tensions between scholastic, humanist, and modern views of reading, writing, and originality. This chapter explores the literary theories of contemporary writers including William Davenant, Abraham Cowley, and Thomas Hobbes in order to create a backdrop for women poets’ own conceptions of reading and influence. It also draws on recent histories of reading, to show that despite individual studies of women's libraries, patterns of reading and influence have not yet been theorised in relation to women writers. It is argued that ideas of cultural capital can be complicated and developed in relation to women's writing and attention to poetic form can be richly revealing of women's intellectual culture.

Keywords:   reading, authorship, Abraham Cowley, Thomas Hobbes, William Davenant, originality, cultural capital

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