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Self-fashioning and poetic voice: Elizabeth Singer Rowe's authorial prerogative

Bigold, Melanie 2019. Self-fashioning and poetic voice: Elizabeth Singer Rowe's authorial prerogative. Review of English Studies 70 (293) , pp. 74-94. 10.1093/res/hgy076
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Elizabeth Singer Rowe (1674–1737) spent forty years negotiating and intervening in the gendered frameworks of the cultural poetics of her time. Nevertheless, despite a number of studies that explore Rowe’s engagement with emerging literary trends and her posthumous reputation, little has been said about her self-conscious construction of a literary career trajectory. This essay seeks to address this lacuna by revisiting a number of poems, particularly her famous elegy to her husband, which helped to shape her career and reputation. Rowe’s early poems reveal the care and deliberation with which she positioned herself. As a contrast to these earlier, explicit expressions, the elegy’s implicit and intensely personal struggle with creative expression itself marks a turning point in Rowe’s self-construction. In transforming her private griefs into an expressive form that specifically foregrounds poetic agency and ambition, Rowe co-opts a male elegiac tradition that makes her poem extremely influential for later women writers. Recognizing the various ways in which Rowe constructed her professional role and claimed poetic authority gives us a better sense of her aesthetic contributions to eighteenth-century verse traditions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0034-6551
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 October 2018
Date of Acceptance: 2 August 2018
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2019 03:17

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