‘No deformitie can abide before the sunne’

Helen Smith

in 'Grossly Material Things'

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199651580
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741654 | DOI:
‘No deformitie can abide before the sunne’

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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Chapter Five turns from questions of making and dissemination to the practice of reading, marking a move away from recent studies of marginalia and interpretation to the question of how and where early modern women actually read, and how their books were understood to work upon their bodies and minds. The chapter draws on a wide range of didactic and exemplary sources, alongside evidence of particular reading practices, to chart the hierarchies of women's literacy in this period, and the separate skills of reading, meditation, and interpretation. It explores the physiologies used to describe and understand women's reading, and argues that figures of imprinting, heart-reading, hunger, and digestion possessed a more than metaphorical force. The chapter turns finally to some of the spaces of women's reading to argue that the apparently passive process of textual engagement can be, in the words of Michel de Certeau, ‘another production’.

Keywords: literacy; reading; privacy; education; psychophysiology; physiologies; Helkiah Crooke; vision; Elizabeth I

Chapter.  17575 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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