Feminist rewriting of history is designed not merely to reshape our collective memory and collective imaginary but also to challenge deeply ingrained paradigms about knowledge production. This feminist rewriting raises important questions for early modern scholars, especially in bringing to life the works of our foremothers and in reconsidering women’s agency.
Recovering Women’s Past, edited by Séverine Genieys-Kirk, is a collection of essays that focus on how women born before the nineteenth century have claimed a place in history and how they have been represented in the collective memory from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century. Scrutinizing the legacies of such politically minded women as Catherine de’ Medici, Queen Isabella of Castile, Emilie du Châtelet, and Olympe de Gouges, the volume’s contributors reflect on how our histories of women (in philosophy, literature, history, and the visual and performative arts) have been shaped by the discourses of their representation, how these discourses have been challenged, and how they can be reassessed both within and beyond the confines of academia. Recovering Women’s Past disseminates a more accurate, vital history of women’s past to engage in more creative and artistic encounters with our intellectual foremothers by creating imaginative modes of representing new knowledge. Only in these interactions will we be able to break away from the prevailing stereotypes about women’s roles and potential and advance the future of feminism.
List of Illustrations Acknowledgments Introduction: Unlocking Epistemic Boundaries Séverine Genieys-Kirk Part 1. New Epistemologies 1. Female Epistemological Authority: Was Virginia Woolf Wrong, and What Else Might Have Happened to Judith Shakespeare? Gina Luria Walker 2. The Visible and the Invisible: Feminist Recovery in the History of Philosophy Nancy Kendrick and Jessica Gordon-Roth 3. Remembering What We Have Tried to Forget: Writing the Lives, and Collecting the Works, of Early Modern Women Artists Lara Perry 4. Controlling Powerful Women: The Emotional Historiography of Catherine de’ Medici Susan Broomhall Part 2. New Ventures 5. “Qualities Which Many Think Most Unlikely to Be Found in Women”: Genderfluid Textualities in Samuel Torshell’s The Womans Glorie (1650) Carme Font Paz 6. Madame du Châtelet and the Dangers of the Female Intellect Sarah Hutton 7. “The Cause of Liberty Still Warms My Bosom”: Helen Maria Williams and the Political History of the French Revolution Paula Yurss Lasanta 8. Women-Authored Collaboration at the Turn of the Eighteenth Century: Historiography and Gender Politics in Narratives by the Purbeck Sisters María Jesús Lorenzo-Modia 9. Queen Isabella of Castile in Nineteenth-Century British and American Biographical Collections Begoña Lasa-Álvarez 10. Flora MacDonald as “the Heroine of the ’45”: Representations of a Jacobite Woman in Victorian and Edwardian Biographies for Children Anne Marie Hagen 11. Mary, Queen of Scots, in Juvenile Literature, 1987–2012 Armel Dubois-Nayt 12. Theater and Women in Power: The Ninon de Lenclos Phenomenon from Olympe de Gouges to Hippolyte Wouters Séverine Genieys-Kirk 13. Citoyenne Center Stage: The Creation of the Play Olympe de Gouges porteuse d’espoir Clarissa Palmer Contributors Index
Séverine Genieys-Kirk is a lecturer of French and Francophone studies at the University of Edinburgh.
“Extremely important. In many academic departments, schools, and even in the public forum, we are having to fight for women authors, artists, or politicians to be added to historical records, monuments, libraries, and curricula. This is in great part, as this volume shows very well, because they are not treated by historians or researchers with the respect due to their achievements but always as women first, whether virtuous and pious mother types or courtesans and ‘lunatics.’ This book highlights the ways in which women of the past were and still are excluded from the history of their disciplines and contributes to their recovery.”—Sandrine Bergès, author of A Feminist Perspective on Virtue Ethics
“This book refocuses and revivifies the field of early modern feminist studies at a moment when the humanities are rightfully reevaluating how knowledge is created and how this epistemic process has marginalized, abstracted, obfuscated, and repressed the lives and voices of entire cultural, ethnic, and gender groups. . . . Having all these essays and reflections on approaches to studying the field together in one volume is invaluable to both scholars and students of all these fields and this topic.”—Abby E. Zanger, author of Scenes from the Marriage of Louis XIV: Nuptial Fictions and the Making of Absolutist Power