Women's Elegies, 1834–Present

Anita Helle

in The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199228133
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Women's Elegies, 1834–Present

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This article deals with women's elegies from the Victorian era to the present. The economies of mourning associated with love and loss, sorrow, introjection, and transcendence have tended to equate ‘elegiac discourse’ with the singularity of the mourner and the compensatory work, however questionable, of aesthetic replacement. The women's elegies in the nineteenth-century and the gendered politics of mourning are evaluated. In the ‘new world’ of pain marked by transnational violence and trauma, it finds renewed debates about pathos and the public, echoes of an unfinished modern sentimental which has not yet resolved its relationship to an affective poetics and politics of grief. Poets and critics arguing for reclaiming women's laments do not necessarily accept the narrative of rupture that has separated the nineteenth-century sentimental tradition, with its emphasis on transcendent suffering.

Keywords: women's elegies; female authorship; suffering; mourning; gendered politics

Article.  8140 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (19th Century) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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