This essay considers how two Benedictine writers, Claude Estiennot (1639–1699) and Anne Neville (1605–1689), engaged with the generic conventions of historical writing, specifically the subgenre of monastic history. In an attempt to complicate critical narratives about early modern history, Estiennot and Neville are read through the lens of feminist formalism. A Maurist and antiquarian, Estiennot wrote a chronicle of the Congregation of the English Benedictine Dames that exemplifies the professional revolution in historiography. Neville, in contrast, cultivated the humbler position of an abbess, creating a historical sketch of her congregation that served as both a familial history and a personal aide-mémoire. By considering the different ways that Estiennot and Neville approached the same historical subject, this essay demonstrates that reading prose in terms of its formal qualities can provide new insights into the interrelationship of gender and genre in the early modern period.

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