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date: 04 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The centrality of the Bible to women’s reading practices in the early modern period in many ways defined their generic engagements as writers and, in particular, as poets: early modern women engaged in the social, doctrinal, and political debates of their world through religious poetry and prose. This chapter uses Lucy Hutchinson’s Order and Disorder as an entry point into the little-discussed biblical verse paraphrases of women to argue that the genre was vital to women’s social and political poetics, providing a biblical and poetic means for women writers to enter into digressive, analogic, and emblematic meditations on contemporary English history. Reading women’s biblical verse paraphrase not only provides fresh insight into women’s engagements with the Bible, but offers a gendered counterpoint to Milton’s biblical epic, and a salutary corrective to the secular emphases of contemporary literary canon formation.

Keywords: Lucy Hutchinson, Order and Disorder, epic, verse paraphrase, Anne Southwell, Elizabeth Singer Rowe, Guillaume de Saluste du Bartas, Francis Quarles, women’s writing

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