Inventive in its approach and provocative in its analysis, this study offers fresh readings of the arguments and practices of four seventeenth-century Euro-American women: Anne Bradstreet, Anne Hutchinson, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and Marie de l'Incarnation. Tamara Harvey here compares functionalist treatments of the body by these women, offering a new way to think of corporeality as a device in literary and religious expressions of modesty by women. In doing so, Harvey explores the engagement of these women in ongoing religious, political, scientific and social debates that would have been understood by the authors' contemporaries in both Europe and America.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction: Modesty's charge: feminist functionalism and 17th-century feminist theory; 'Now sisters ... impart your usefulnesse, and force': Anne Bradstreet's feminist functionalism; 'Cuerpo luminoso': body and soul in Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz's Promero SueÃ±o; 'I doe not thinke the body that dyes shall rise agayne': Anne Hutchinson's mortalism as feminist functionalism; Femmes fortes: mysticism and the female apostolate of Marie de l'Incarnation; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
Tamara Harvey is Assistant Professor of English at George Mason University, USA
'Using the early modern definition of modesty as keeping due measure, Tamara Harvey investigates, in creative and novel ways, the involvement of four early American women in the religious, philosophical, and medical debates of their day. Rather than be confined by a symbolic body that viewed women as weak and ineffectual, these women utilized a functional body - all aspects of which could be put to effective use - to act and write as full participants in public discourse, expressing a feminist functionalism. Harvey’s innovative approach proffers scholars with a new method to interrogate corporeality within the literary and religious works of early modern women.' Janet Moore Lindman, Rowan University, USA '[It is] impossible to do justice in a short review to Harvey’s detailed explorations of texts that were originally written in three languages... the book draws on a striking range of historical knowledge and demonstrates Harvey’s mastery of the diverse discourses the authors engaged, including medicine and humoral theory, Puritan theology, and the generic traditions of the Neoplatonic dream poem and Ursuline memoir. Yet despite the range of its sources, the book remains tightly focused on its core argument... Figuring Modesty is a significant and revealing work.' Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers