A study of the representation of reading in early modern Englishwomen's writing, this book exists at the intersection of textual criticism and cultural history.
It looks at depictions of reading in women's printed devotional works, maternal advice books, poetry, and fiction, as well as manuscripts, for evidence of ways in which women conceived of reading in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century England.
Among the authors and texts considered are Katherine Parr, Lamentation of a Sinner; Anne Askew, The Examinations of Anne Askew; Dorothy Leigh, The Mothers Blessing; Elizabeth Grymeston, Miscelanea Meditations Memoratives; Aemelia Lanyer, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum; and Mary Wroth, The First Part of the Countess of Montgomery's Urania. Attentive to contiguities between representations of reading in print and reading practices found in manuscript culture, this book also examines a commonplace book belonging to Anne Cornwallis (Folger Folger MS V.a.89) and a Passion poem presented by Elizabeth Middleton to Sarah Edmondes (Bod.
MS Don. e.17). Edith Snook here makes an original contribution to the ongoing scholarly project of historicizing reading by foregrounding female writers of the early modern period.
She explores how women's representations of reading negotiate the dynamic relationship between the public and private spheres and investigates how women might have been affected by changing ideas about literacy, as well as how they sought to effect change in devotional and literary reading practices.
Finally, because the activity of reading is a site of cultural conflict - over gender, social and educational status, and the religious or national affiliation of readers - Snook brings to light how these women, when they write about reading, are engaged in structuring the cultural politics of early modern England.