Narratives of female suffering in the petitionary literature of Civil War period and its aftermath

Alison Thorne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article examines the symbiotic relationship between narratives of female suffering in the civil war period and its aftermath and the polemical agendas promulgated by various religious sects. It focuses on three specific groups: the female petitioners of the 1640s, the Levellers (1645–53) and the first generation Quakers (1652–1670). The aim is to show how closely intertwined political, legalistic and affective discourses were in the petitionary literature of that era. At the heart of this discursive matrix stands the iconic image of the suffering woman which can be analysed on both a symbolic and literal plane, whether as an emblem of the war-torn body politic or in terms of women’s actual struggle for survival. The article considers the ways in which women were emboldened in this period, either through their involvement in political debates and civic agitation in relation to parliament or due to their religious faith. It also notes the limits of their battle for civil rights, freedom of speech and sexual equality. Tales of female adversity, it is argued, were used both to evoke an empathetic response and as a means of legitimising women’s bold speaking and, by extension, the political agendas of their menfolk.
LanguageEnglish
Pages134-145
Number of pages12
JournalLiterature Compass
Volume10
Issue number2
Early online date12 Feb 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013

Fingerprint

Civil War
Sect
Parliament
Civil Rights
Equality
Discourse
Freedom of Speech
1640s
Emblems
Religion
Political Agenda
Political Debate
Sexual
Body Politics
Affective
Iconic
Quaker
Civics
Religious Faith
Discursive

Keywords

  • civil war
  • female emancipation
  • civil rights

Cite this

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Narratives of female suffering in the petitionary literature of Civil War period and its aftermath. / Thorne, Alison.

In: Literature Compass, Vol. 10, No. 2, 02.2013, p. 134-145.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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