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Early voices
Early voices
Early voices
Early voices
Early voices
Early voices
Early voices
Early voices
Early voices
Early voices
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Early voices

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  • 1. Early Voices: The Culture of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
  • 2. <ul><li>“ Anonymous was a woman.” – Virginia Woolf, 1929, A Room of One’s Own </li></ul><ul><li>Margary Kempe , 1501, published the first autobiography in the English language </li></ul><ul><li>Margaret Tyler , 1575, published the first secular text translated by a woman </li></ul><ul><li>Elizabeth Cary , 1613, published first original play known to be written by a woman </li></ul><ul><li>Sarah Jinner , 1656 was the first woman to earn a living as a writer </li></ul>
  • 3. <ul><li>These women are exceptional, and therefore atypical because of their level of education and intellectual authority compared to most women (and men) of their day. </li></ul>
  • 4. <ul><li>We must consider these achievements against the cultural and historical backdrop of these early centuries, which can be characterized by change , political, social, literary and religious. </li></ul>
  • 5. Cultural Characteristics <ul><li>People in this time period began to move away from the superstitions, centrality and absolute authority of the Catholic Church because of </li></ul><ul><li>(a) The Protestant Reformation (Martin Luther’s challenge to doctrine, dogma, and the authority of the Pope), which gave people a different way of being Christian </li></ul>
  • 6. <ul><li>(b) The Renaissance idea of Humanism : putting people, and not God at the center of things, valuing enlightened education and secular art and literature. Renaissance Humanists believed in the perfectibility of humanity. </li></ul>
  • 7. Additional Cultural Factors <ul><li>The birth in the middle of the fourteenth century of the middle class, moving away from a feudal society </li></ul><ul><li>Decimation of crops by drought </li></ul><ul><li>Decimation of the population by repeated bouts of the “Black Deeth,” the plague </li></ul><ul><li>Britain’s attempts to expand its borders, annexing Wales, and repeated fighting to bring Scotland and Ireland under British rule </li></ul>
  • 8. Women’s Lives <ul><li>The reality of women’s lives at this time is that women had no status in law – “Femes sole,” although they occasionally did in fact – “femes covert”: </li></ul><ul><li>Chaucer’s Prioress, and the Wife of Bath in The Canterbury Tales had a degree of wealth and power, for example. </li></ul><ul><li>Women only had legal status as daughters, wives and widows of men. </li></ul>
  • 9. Religious Influence <ul><li>Church doctrine, passed down from St. Jerome, St. Paul, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, teaches women to be silent and obedient to their husbands and clergy. </li></ul><ul><li>Women as the Magdalene, or the “daughters of Eve,” prone to temptation, disproportionate burden of guilt, born sinners who need chastisement or correction. </li></ul>
  • 10. <ul><li>This culture, therefore, sees women as spiritually, as well as physically, inferior. </li></ul><ul><li>Women thus were taught to strive to be more like Mary, idealized as saintly, chaste, humble, obedient to the patriarchal and divine will. </li></ul>

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