Sunday, June 24, 2012

Attending to Early Modern Women 2012 - Thoughts and Notes

Just some thoughts, notes, ideas, and impressions from an amazing conference:

If you've never been, I highly recommend it, especially if you'll be in the Midwest. It's now located at UW-Milwaukee. What a wonderful privilege to hear from so many senior female scholars. I'm grateful for the kindness of several who took time to speak with me -- including Bernadette Andrea!

This was not my first time at a conference, but this was no ordinary conference. The attendance was mostly female, along with a handful of men including Brian Sandberg, who's also from NIU (History), and who sits on the organizing committee. Loved seeing senior scholars knitting and embroidering in the audiences at the plenary talks. Interesting to watch the differing affects across the levels of power and the way networking was performed. Nerve-wracking to see some of these incredible women in the same room. I learned a lot about the profession just from observing their performances, especially the language and linguistic structures used. There are several plenary sessions where papers are read, and five panel sessions that are workshops in nature, with brief introductions and orienting statements by the panelists and then discussion beginning with some pre-circulated selected texts. My Friday afternoon workshop was particularly interesting to me (at the end).

Deep apologies in advance for the condition of these notes, especially the spelling and capitalization. (Typing on an iPad's touch screen hasn't gotten any easier for me, plus I was working furiously to get it all down.)

From Elizabeth Lehfeldt's plenary talk on Thursday:

Lack of enclosure necessarily transgressive? Male writers of the time would say so, but we don't need to leave that unquestioned. Live in "open reclusion" or "chosen reclusion" -- leave convent or enclosure for business when needed. Convents had secular interests like manners, business, etc. What did that mean? How shape convent as social institution? What was the lived experience? Objects, textiles, and foodstuffs that shaped convent life -- prized poverty, erased distinctions among individuals. Material culture NOT immaterial -- rich and varied texture, unusually rich food on feast days, handle books read aloud during meals, prepare herbals and so on. 1606 Anna de St. Augustin, originally from convent at Malagon, discalced Caramelite nun, autobiography, lesbian relations between nuns, Sherry Velasquez's latest book. Torno (tornera the woman who attended it), turntable in a window to pass items from convent to outside where baby jesus in a box was displayed for daily visual consumption of not nuns but people. Border between the ideal of enclosure and every convent's need to conduct business and preserve itself. Anna says community enjoyed interactions with baby jesus and the convent could not otherwise have survived. Power and placement of sacred objects, finances and survival of a sacred institution, charisma of Teresa de Avila who founded Anna's institution at request of male superiors to transform unenclosed female sacred community into an enclosed convent, newer and stricter definition of religious life, how to do this without alienating them, young, impoverished community, isolated location (not city, fewer opportunities for support), Villa Terrera di Via Nueva as the foundation seems to have been called. Teresa believed living on alms and being enclosed would help mitigate reliance on patrons and distracting demands. Shrewd principle, but not always good in practice, compromised ability to conduct business, fundraise, cultivate patrons, visit other convents, etc. For Anna -- Image not object of communal devotion but fiscal intervention. Another example: Magdalena de la Cruz gave away and squandered so much money, denounced by fellow nuns as otherwise she'd have ruined them financially, apparently wanted to be abbess but they didn't want her, Inquisition got her to confess to demonic activity, evidence of financial impropriety exposed her, convent finances a serious business, finances were the pretext for accusing her. Sor Juana de la Cruz: Santa Mara de Cubas convent -- biographer praised her talents as abbess (management affected her reputation), she immediately improved finances of convent dramatically, primarily through patronage, increased rents over 300%, accomplished these goals while also enclosing her community. Baby jesus -- convent in its infancy, financial vulnerability felt acutely. Lessons: 1) Economic activity molded nuns' experience of material culture and fraught? environment. 2) intersection of convent finance and normative enclosure (myriad convents violated expectation of enclosure to manage business and work in community) -- enclosed nuns actually the exception, not the rule!

From Kimberlyn Montford's plenary address on Thursday:

There was little legal, political, domestic autonomy or power for women in early modern Ialy. But -- Convents provided room for social influence & unprecedented sense of personal autonomy. Enclosed, unworldly convent was a symbol of and also a replacement for societal virtue. Spot for unwanted daughters or unmarriageable ones. Patrimony would remain intact thus. Nature of reciprocation. Female convents governed by men very often, often same local authorities and nobles who governed hospitals and charities in the area (often related as fathers or brothers to nuns from noble families). Noble families controlled much of convents through family ties, donations, chapels built, displaying wealth and power; Council of Trent sought to change that. Nobility directed the environment in which its daughters were enclosed. Young aristocratic girls taught at convents and guided into taking vows. Forged long bonds that was primary means of recruitment, produced revenue, and teaching was a form of service that allowed for more contact with outside world and fulfillment of teaching service required by Ursuline and other orders. Often, significant numbers of women in a convent would be related, voting together in convent to make decisions. Vital locii of lavish hospitality and entertainment in married women from outside society related to nuns. Aristocratic nuns treated convents as own homes. Interior of convent conveyed status and power for women in positions of authority, extraordinary skill,or reflection of family power and wealth, gaining goodwill of sisters. Freedom of Roman women to enter the cloister hotly contested. Refuge to escape temporaily demands of marriage, household, childcare; some sequestered unwillingly; Maria Mancini helped her sister escape a forced sequestration; Christina of Sweden frequently visited female monasteries of Rome with entourage, hangers-on, various people. 1663, she stayed with nuns for four days (a long time). Her famous public conversion was politically expedient for Church, so she was allowed more leeway. Counter-Reformation Church.

From my Thursday morning workshop presentation:

The use of the Shrine of Loreto in The Duchess of Malfi. The Holy House of the Virgin Mary left Holy Land due to Muslims for Tersato in Illyria (i.e., Croatia, Dalmatian Coast) in 1291; more Muslim pressure sent it in 1294 across the Adriatic to Ancona area, Loreto, arriving December 10. Possibly transported by Crusaders; legend says carried through the air by angels. Ancona was in the Papal States in the duchess's time, about 1510. Caravaggio, Descartes, Galileo, Montaigne, Brahms, Mozart, Cervantes -- all paid Our Lady of Loreto homage.

(Holy House as Marian shrine also in Walsingham dating to Edward the Confessor-era, earlier than Loreto tradition. Built because of divine vision, miraculously moved some hundred feet at one point. Lisa Hopkins describes it as England's Holiest Shrine. Erasmus spoke of it in terms of the goddess by the sea, diva parathalassia. Antonio Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona was commissioned in the spirit of Loreto, according to Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum.)

Amalfi (just south of Naples) in the Kingdom of Naples is around 270 miles from Loreto. In Webster: Duchess and Antonio flee Amalfi to reunite in Ancona; Bosola goes to Rome to tell her brothers; Cardinal speeds to Loreto to arrest the duchess and returns her to Amalfi; Antonio and son flee farther north to Milan; duchess is killed in Amalfi (Torre dello Ziro); play closes in Milan as the remaining characters gather there for the final bloodbath.

Incarnation, annunciation, Israel to the Adriatic, one world entering another, the idea of flight, memory of Mary's flight to Egypt and Mary's controversial virgin pregnancy. Connections and allusions.

Webster added the Cardinal's dumb show signifying banishment. Prince of the church, armored as representative of state power, and her brother -- triple threat. Obscene, perverse, to see him banish a mother from *the* house of the mother, and the pilgrims' dialogue suggests that too. Something wrong with religious men, patriarchy, questions the church coopting ancient feminine, Isis, Kali, both of whom black madonna has been compared to historically. Birnbaum traces the dark mother to paleolithic paths of African peoples through Europe. Black madonna, ferocious, punitive, beloved and powerful protector, earthy, Deliberately painted black, body under clothes so not smoke or soot as sometimes claimed, sacred feminine, mother and child, Dalmatian vestments indicating Illyrian ancestry. Ancient earth goddesses, origins of life, fecundity, fertility. The Madonna of Loreto is still a fertility figure. House -- center of domesticity (too nineteenth-century a term? "the domestic").

Stabat Mater / Stetit Puella: the Duchess is a widow - not virgin, not married, but still a mother, degree of independence. Interchange, connections, rich tapestry -- not dichotomy of virgin/whore (Ferdinand's fevered imagination), not opposition. Marry her steward -- not a domineering outsider, not incest with brother, but her own man, someone already close to her, trusted, literally in her house, "mayordomo" as Lope de Vega says, running her house. Loreto is a subtle allusion to maternal and household traditions being transgressed by the brothers (powerful men in church, state, her family). Webster uses the historical record of the duchess's flight here to shape a more sympathetic portrait of the duchess and also suggest some nostalgia for older matriarchal or sacred feminine roots behind Catholicism. Men afraid of the power of the mother, women's sexual power, co-opting that power.

From Bernadette Andrea's Friday plenary address:

Islamic women in British early modern literature - women and gender in Islam

Text: Dicts or sayings of the philosophers, 1477: misogyny (Caxton restores some misogynistic passages), early signal of controversial, broadening presences of women in EM print culture. Caxton's daughter was an Islamic scholar, an absent presence in her father's transmission of classical Greek misogyny. The incorporation and subsequent erasure of Islamic women in English and Scottish culture.

Empress Safiye's letters in Principal Navigations by Richard Hakland, 1598-1600, but neither she nor other women from Islamic region traveled to British world -- but, some women did enter the periphery of the British world:

Ellen Moor or Hellen Moor (sp?), Black Queen of Beauty in masques for james i and anne (1607-1608), ambivalent agency as african-descent woman, one of the first queen's masques, "visibly pampered" (Habib) with many clothes (object to be shown), "celebrity", exoticism, earthy finale to her masque. William Dunbar, Scottish court poet, alternately praises and bestializes the black queen of beauty, thick mouth like a monkey, catlike nose, etc., foreshadows unabashed racism of later british discourses of empire. Henry VIII had highly orientalized images of turks and moors, turkey fashion, turbans, swords, attendants with faces blackened, covered with black cloth, egyptian headgear, prototypical masque of blackness. Sidney Anglo on spectacle, representations of turks and moors in these were "without malice" but others stress nexus with oppression. Johannus Leo Africanus biography, marginal to and constitutive of the masque.

Blacks in england from Henry VIII to the Restoration, a few, Portuguese human booty brought by scottish privateers to edinburgh (according to scholar Habib), Peter a favorite of James I. Tournament of the black knight and the black lady -- Robert Lindsay of Piscotty. 1670s: terms coalesced in documentary record with Alice Long, daughter of a black moor, daughter of the king of morocco (Habib). A.D. Saunders on slaves in portugal, majority muslim regions of west africa.

Tartar girl acquired for e i, muscovy company records, rehearsed in sh's plays Hippoltya the Tartarian (mid sixteenth century from central asian steppes to court of elizabeth i) - the multiply subaltern subject, as in Master Anthony Jenkinson's letter, 18 sept 1559, haplett's principle navigations - "giuing you most heartie thanks for my wench Aura Soltana" (marginal note that this woman was given to Elizabeth I and lived there at least a couple of decades, as Ellenore was also at court for decades) -- Astrakhan?

Did have attendants (Hellenore), identified as a maidservant, some status and life at court for both Aura and Elenore, resentment resonating in Hippolyta and derogatory Turk and Moor and Tartar epithets in Shakespeare plays

This is the only reference to Aura Sultana. Elizabeth I perhaps speaks of her with a reference to "dear and well beloved woman." June 1564, receipt for her delivery to court. She was well dressed, silk, etc., from purchase records.

Janet Arnold, text: Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlocked -- as of 1569 Hippolyta was still in Queen Elizabeth's service. Black page boy in 1574 and a female dwarf Thomasina were also in her service. Hippolyta's position was analogous to that of Ellen Moor. "Slave" term was not used. Racial and religious complexity deepens with a Tatar , representaitons deracinated with Tamurlaine as antidote to Ottoman expansion, in pamphlets if not in Marlowe's play, religious tabula rasa, although historically Muslim. She resonates in references in ambiguously racialized representations:

Midsummer night's dream
Countess of Montgomery's urania, The Tartar Princess and Rotomondo, Eastern Christians enlisted to save beleaguered West, more white than black, did not appear other once they put on habits (dress and customs), even more completely erased than female Blackamoor
Appropriated to English Protestant ends

Persians figured as white, assimilation but also erasure

De facto shadow status
Central asians, esp girls, often sold into slavery, imposing imperial names on slaves, multi-ethnic, multi-confessional harems, non Muslims could rise to exalted position of Sultana if bore son

Incipient fetishizing discourse of empire on harem as source of violence

Jenkinson went to land of cathay via central asia (trip), but turned back in uzbekistan, contested by British, Safavid (Persian), and Ottoman empires.

These Islamic women rendered canonical by imprimatur of ben jonson in masques

Paucity of hard evidence. Case studies about displaced women and girls negotiating their representations in british culture, and how that influenced later representations.

Important: Not focus on status as blacks in british isles, provenance as muslims or from islamic world has been ignored (lacuna resulting from christian conversion). Proto-colonial era: Specifically these women came from the Islamic world, Ellen Moor's likely origins in Islamic West Africa (Muslim or animist). Extrapolate Islamic context to her performance.

Hippolyta until recently misidentified as not from Central Asia, some evidence of possibly other Tartars, male stable hands in mid 1500s.

Invariably converted to Christianity, so (?) not included in postcolonial driven recovery of subalterns which usually begins in mid 1700s. Community of enslaved peoples in Portugal and Russia showed resistance, though. Still -- H and ellen survived and even thrived despite or because of their dissimilarity. Attention to documentary record, close contextual readings, assess lasting impact of these women.


What was the medieval record of black/Islamic women in Britain?

From Patricia Akhimsie and Bernadette Andrea's Friday workshop panel:

Women who ran away, Marie and ____ Mancini
Reading material displays as texts
Extraordinary approaches to unusual women's texts

Thomas Howard, well traveled, Wife Alethea, Lady Arundel, was also very much so but her writings have not survived, letters from family and contemporaries, art world reports of her patronage, and her collection in inventories

Voyage of Lady Catherine Whitenall, 1650 ms. precursor to Lassels's major travel guidebook for young men, didactic, detail oriented, mundane, hagiographic according to alison gaines (she died in Padua in 1650), honored as a devoted wife and equally as a pious travellor

Context for other travelers we read:
Evidence from 1620s, of serving class english women travelled with lady teresa st simon, wife of ambassador to persia, lady sampsone?, and other wives and servant women and daughters traveling with men to constantinople
1650s - 60s, slavery and concubinage of english, irish, and scottish women captured by north african pirates, some of whom married high and gained status (babil matar)
1600 east india co. Barred men from brigning wives and daughters
1617-1618 Mary Wortley Montagu traveled to Turkey

Written record, burgeoning tradition of tracel writing from religiosu and secular standpoint. Cheevers, fisher, evans, and stoddard all travelled for Quaker faith, aletha stewart's article and use of "conversion" -- Quakers actually conceptualize their tasks very differently, clearing one 's conscience and following inner light

Mary fisher walked from smyrna to adrianople, many miles, encounter with great turk as illuminating and respectful

Cheevers and evans disliked other, whether muslim, protestant or catholic. Tangiers. Maltese inquisition. "Bloody savage people." Didn't want an encounter, sent home soon.

Broader community of men and women Quakers, did not experience travels as voluntary (will or desire), just necessity to express themselves as vehicles for the divine word. Understand negative agency as a crucial aspect of women's travel and writings. Do not dismiss it as many critics do bc does not conform to secular tradition of women's travel. That erases these women.

Most critics begin women's travel writing with Montagu. Need more attention to these women's reception and production. Describes turkish bodies naked in bath even as she refuses to disrobe. Husband keeps her trapped in her stays as she ventriloquizes turkish women's understanding of her predicament. Turns male gaze into a feminist act.

Journeys to the Other Shore, very crucial scholarly text!

Fragments and flashes, not narrative writing always, by women.

Involuntary (banishment, religious persecution), non-voluntary, voluntary travel - Palmer's tract with the "logic of the grid," goal of having limits set on travel

Shadow side of banishment is flight

Pope asked Montagu to bring back a white Circassian slave from the markets that looks just like her, naked, brainless, sexualized body

Difference between permanent move and tourism? Various uses of word travel and travaill, labor (link to pregnancy and Whitenaill), same meaning, effort, duress, going to places that aren't your home... Frustration of the ambivalence of the word travel, modern meanings of which it is hard to divest when looking back at texts (Akhimie), if it's not travel, what should we call it?

Valerie Traub: journeying, laura ambrose's term preferred to travel. Distance tables and almanacs, annotated. Women owned these as well as men, including distance tables, and used them for all sorts of purposes. Spatial epistemology, axis type of thing, in distance tables. Field began with oceanic voyage in scholarship. Now Mediterranean, Ottoman, Muscovy, terrestrial travel, not heroic discovery narratives. Now return to the local, the way most people traveled. Travel along Thames, in coaches, new technologies, new boats, new coaches, very connected to women's movement and their publicness. When women traveled, how, how far, what locomotion did they use, when did they need to be defended, when going beyond village or visiting relatives?

Developments in cartography, efficient, postal service beginning mid seventeenth century, carriages, schedules organized and predictable, roadmaps (a whole new way of looking at a landscape rather than mountains and rivers that you could travel on).

Place names and distances to each (not map) would have been used by travelrs, more narrative and list like, with references to this church, this spire, muddiness, can you only traverse in certain seasons. Mid seventeenth century you get roadmaps, networks thought about differently.

Are we being too textual? Quakers were not in voluntary categories of palmer. Fisher walked and talked and asked people, tolerance toward the mad and fools in the Ottoman context, could wander, not incarcerated, and she probably was seen as slightly crazy. She didn't use maps or lists or anything. 500 miles to sultan's court. Totally alone, no other Englishperson along. Did she hitch rides? Travel with non English at any point?

Montagu inside Turkish coach - incognito like Arundel, not be required to show up at court, etc. Enclosed yet mobile, out in world yet cut off yet peeking out, exchange going on. Mysteries of Udolpho, travel though woods afraid of banditti while in carriages.

Incognito can be useful when in flight. Noblewomen who dont want to have to deal with being recognized, like in Monte Cristo the two girls, freedom without protocols of high rank. Venice Incognito, Jen Johnson, masking, very prevalent, not just Carnival, everyone might know who you are but you don't have to acknowledge it, sophia hanover writes in memoirs about going incognito across cities. Hosts will escort dignitaries incognito to be less formal.

Function of good travel is to know is ars apodemica works. Women usually supposed to be as little known as possible. Countess of Arundel particularly interesting here, fosculini affair, becomes as known as possible, trouble, state criminals, goes before Collegio to defend herself, opposite move of seclusion, gets back to her husband and king, she becomes notorious. Notoriety and going incognito two sides of one coin for traveling women, while for men the goal is to know.

Montagu dons full veil of upper-class Ottoman woman to go incognito to visit the great mosques. She represents them as barred to christians and especially foreign christians (not totally true historically). She says bc she is known but incognito, she is allowed to enter with a wink and nod. Veiling often seen as regression from western feminist perspective today, but from perspective of young women donning veils, like traveling coach in a way, at least they do get out of the home. Power in being in public like not fully visible to the gaze. Defoe's Roxana is exotic, fetishized, when she puts on her veils.

Triangulated contrast to understand how she represents herself, analogy, like dutch coach but a difference, peeping through the lattices. Seated on cushions but not raised, Ottoman-style sofa. Versus total verticality of fisher and male travelers, initial male travelers walked often, donned apparel and guise of locals (incognito in a way).

Evans and Cheevers, colonial american captivity narratives are very similar esp. in language. Laura Gowing sourcebook, Linda Colley also writes on them. Maltese Inquisition and Moors. Can be a captivity narrative, travel narrative too? Displacement. Colley writes about an Elizabeth captured on a boat who has a relationship with a sheik, Moghul empire harem, writes her own story. Not religious. Different versions of it. Later ones by other editors played up romance, intrigue, it became a different story.

Need more about Continental and other non-English women travelers. Barbary pirates, mostly british conerts to islam, captured people in Ireland and the Thames, evidence is petitions sent from relatives to the Crown begging for ransom to be paid.

Catherine of Aragon moving to England for marriage -- she always had the sense her home was elsewhere, like many women exchanged in marriage, do those seem acceptable as travel narratives? Genres, conventions, collecting things with various similarities; we might get further by considering motivations: religion, pursuit of knowledge, pursuit of goods, kin-related, survival, etc.

People who don't fit in traditional travel guidebooks with their *emphasis on the return*. implicit presumption of safety, foreclosing other possibilities, legitimizes certain behaviors while abroad, whitenaill excerpt begins with her memory of the goal. Motivation but also how to use these things when she returns, promise of safety, narrative proscribes some motivations, sidesteps others.

whitenaill one of weirdest things Traub has read. The conditional tense throughout three quarters of it, what could have been written about but was not, full of anxiety, what the wife didn't write about, i.e., her husband, the inscription of his absence has to be acknowledged, Lassels is having to make amends for it, as if her honor would otherwise be lessened, one man protecting the reputation of another man's wife to that man.

No literary critical close reading for Whethenall text yet.

Lassels's an opportunist. Uses this text to write his italian guidebook from/in. The trip has no purpose beyond brief enjoyment, she is dead now anyway and can't take pleasure, there is no point in memorializing it -- he says all this.

18the century, grand tour, travel for health, often die, travel to get body, anne lister's partner went to retrieve her body and bury her in ancestral manorial grounds. Hortense, duchess of mazarin, her travels incorporate all categories, her husband forces her to travel with him, she returns to paris only for pregnancies, she runs away from him, declares she will never return home, she goes everywhere, sees every possible direction, finally dies in England, and he goes to retrieve her body and pay her debts, brings her body back to france and travels with it for four months to his properties, everyone asking him to bury her already.

Thomas Bendish's wife died and he traveled for quite some time with her, he was ambassador to turkery. Pietro della valle the venetian in persia took his dead wife (she was persian or something) around for a while. Travel of the corpse as a genre. (Not uncommon!)

Lassels was lady catherine's tutor, a very unusual setup. Very unusual people the Whitenalls, text doesnt explain why they took him along. She traveled while pregnany, rode horseback instead of carriage bc easier when pregnant apparently. She had a maidservant along too, who fell ill and conveyed it to lady catherine who nursed her, and caused her death

Pericles, marina is born at sea, travel, pregnancy, labor, mother is supposed to have died during that time. Marina is sold to brothel and ends up in wrong place. Forced movements and different types of them in Pericles. Of course so much movement and travel throughout literature -- Duchess's flight in Webster, for example.

Elizabeth Cary narrative of life by daughters, travel, moved, escaped to? convents in Europe and France. Also travel, even though no return or intent of return. Margaret Cavendish, exile and travel.

New World: is there a text and how much of a text is it? Not quite a narrative in most cases. Slavery least documented in terms of narrative, other kinds of texts. Indentured servitude too, voluntary but then basically enslaved. A lot more work has been done on women's travel to america, not so much to ottoman empire areas. Travel to "Ottoman Empire" meant to European territories (really?).

Four Nations idea of Britain: archipelago. In katherine phillips in wales, ireland, trying to get back to london, the local can still be colonial, eternal colonialism in the british isles.

Ladies of Llangollen, they "eloped" to be together and lived as husband and wife, an irish couple, exiles from ireland to wales who build neo gothic retreat and write to people about what it means not to be in ireland

Non agential and non self motivated travel? Can we talk about that? We experience travel as act that we perform, starts with subject, does that present a difficult when look at em travel. Can a corpse travel or just be traveled, made to go places? Can slaves travel? Which women can travel? Can the poor travel? Is it travel if you need to move house?

Can still be a category of a subject without being agential.

Early novels, women always travel like a dead body travels, washed up on shore, thrown overboard in shipwreck, initial act of going out is not something they initiate. Behn's Oroonoko, narrator travels to Surinam.

Wonder Women, airplane travel, one woman, one seat, at the controls, flying how she wants to go, shows what was missing in the older period. (Akhimsie's class on women in travel ended in the 1940s)

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