As early efforts to include women in the canon of Renaissance literature give way to gender-oriented research in material culture and book history, it is increasingly the scholar's task to marry the language of ideological negotiation to a more wide-ranging investigation into the many ways that women of all social ranks contributed to the making, weaving, writing, printing, etching, annotating, composing, and publishing of English literary culture. This essay takes a fresh look at the authorship of Isabella Whitney, the earliest identified woman to publish secular English verse in print. Specifically, Whitney restructures humanist notions of reading-as-gathering around “huswifely” textile work by drawing on the rich semantic context of the word slip. Situating Whitney's A Sweet Nosgay in the material culture from which she drew her metaphors illuminates its relationship to a range of Elizabethan verse miscellanies and demonstrates her innovation within the genre as a woman.
Whitney Trettien; Isabella Whitney's Slips: Textile Labor, Gendered Authorship, and the Early Modern Miscellany. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 September 2015; 45 (3): 505–521. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-3149131
Download citation file: