Proposing a fresh approach to scholarship on the topic, this volume explores the cultural meanings, especially the gendered meanings, of material associated with oral traditions. The collection is divided into three sections. Part One investigates the evocations of the 'old nurse' as storyteller so prominent in early modern fictions. The essays in Part Two investigate women's fashioning of oral traditions to serve their own purposes. The third section disturbs the exclusive associations between the feminine and oral traditions to discover implications for masculinity, as well. Contributors explore the plays of Shakespeare and writings of Spenser, Sidney, Wroth and the Cavendishes, as well as works by less well known or even unknown authors. Framed by an introduction by Mary Ellen Lamb and an afterword by Pamela Allen Brown, these essays make several important interventions in scholarship in the field. They demonstrate the continuing cultural importance of an oral tradition of tales and ballads, even if sometimes circulated in manuscript and printed forms. Rather than in its mode of transmission, contributors posit that the continuing significance of this oral tradition lies instead in the mode of consumption (the immediacy of the interaction of the participants). Oral Traditions and Gender in Early Modern Literary Texts confirms the power of oral traditions to shape and also to unsettle concepts of the masculine as well as of the feminine. This collection usefully complicates any easy assumptions about associations of oral traditions with gender.
Contents: Introduction, Mary Ellen Lamb; Part I 'Our Mothers' Maids': Nurture and Narrative: Telling tales: locating female nurture and narrative in The Faerie Queene, Jacqueline T. Miller; Female orality and the healing arts in Spenser's Mother Hubberd's Tale, Kate Giglio; Urania's example: the female storyteller in early modern English romance, Julie A. Eckerle; 'Before woomen were readers': how John Aubrey wrote female oral history, Henk Dragstra. Part II Spinsters, Knitters and the Uses of Oral Traditions: Fractious: teenage girls' tales in and out of Shakespeare, Diane Purkiss; Robber bridegrooms and devoured brides: the influence of folktales on Spenser's Burisane and Isis church episodes, Marianne Micros; 'I'll watch him tame and talk him out of patience': the curtain lecture and Shakespeare's Othello, LaRue Love Sloan; Free and bound maids: women's work songs and industrial change in the age of Shakespeare, Fiona McNeill; Gender at work in the cries of London, Natasha Korda. Part III Oral Traditions and Masculinity: Pocky queans and horn knaves: gender stereotypes in libelous poems, C.E. McGee; 'When an old ballad is plainly sung': Musical lyrics in the plays of Margaret and William Cavendish James Fitzmaurice; ' My manly shape hath yet a woman's minde': the fairy escape from gender-roles in The Maid's Metamorphosis, Regina Buccola; 'Her very phrases': exploiting the metaphysics of presence in Twelfth Night, Eric Mason; Clamorous voices, incontinent fictions: orality, oratory and gender in William Baldwin's Beware the Cat, Clare R. Kinney; Afterword, Pamela Allen Brown; Bibliography; Index.