Writing Herbert writing Sidney : Mary Sidney Herbert, literary patronage, and early modern textual production

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2008
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Perkins, Joan
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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2008.
"Writing Herbert Writing Sidney: Mary Sidney Herbert, Literary Patronage, and Early Modern Textual Production" explores ways in which traditional critical approaches replicate the exclusion of early modern women from public discourse. In her own time, Herbert was recognized as an important literary figure, but her work has been undervalued by scholars who represent it as an extension of her brother's. Herbert wrote more than two-thirds of the poetry in the Sidney Psalmes, a text that served as a model of versification for poets like John Donne, but until the feminist movement of the late twentieth century, Herbert's role in publishing Sir Philip Sidney's poetry, literary theory, and prose fiction overshadowed her own work as a writer and patron for most critics.
Herbert's editorial control and revisions of her brother's texts aroused deep-seated cultural anxieties in some scholars, whose representations of Herbert minimize her achievements and her abilities. This dissertation analyzes constructions of Herbert and Sidney, including their own, to identify rhetorical strategies and critical approaches that either authorize or deny authority to a subject's public speech. The centrality of the single-author paradigm to literary scholarship contributes to under-representation of women's roles in early modern textual production. While gender policing of authorship during this period was strict, women could and did affect textual constructions of meaning in their roles as patrons as well as through their own writing.
One of the first women in early modern England to publish her work under her own name, Herbert modeled ways of circumventing restrictions on women's public discourse. She also helped shape the British literary tradition through her representations of Sidney. As Michel Foucault argues, the figure of "author" as a cultural construct circumscribes textual meaning. Through her use of cultural myth, which Roland Barthes identifies with ideology, Herbert redefined Sidney as a cultural icon, associating his name with the British aristocratic ideal in ways that validated the privilege of the hierarchical class structure. Approaches that analyze the ways in which texts circulate as signs in what Barthes describes as a "second-order signifying system" helpfully complement critical focus on textual production and authorship.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 253-276).
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276 leaves, bound 29 cm
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). English; no. 5065
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