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date: 13 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter looks at poets who were also women and the issues that arose from combining these two roles, at their options (and their own understanding of their options) about voice and identity, genres and topics, and about admission to the canon (presumed masculine) versus possible feminine alternatives. Self-education was a first challenge for many women, along with establishing a literary network: in a generally unfavorable climate for women’s writing, particular families or coteries, or institutions, like the court, the theater, or the emerging culture of periodicals, provided pockets of firm support. Women played with dramatic roles in verse, or constructed their own poetic personae, under the threat of being labeled with distorting popular stereotypes. This chapter attempts to track the women poets across the spectrum of genres and mixed genres, to investigate some of the various—even contradictory—ways they found for allowing “the Poet in me” to be female.

Keywords: poetry, women, women writers, gender, coteries

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