Authority and Female Authorship in Colonial America by William J. Scheick

By William J. Scheick

May still girls quandary themselves with examining except the Bible? should still girls try and write in any respect? Did those actions violate the hierarchy of the universe and men's and women's areas in it? Colonial American girls depended on an analogous professionals and traditions as did colonial males, yet they encountered unique problems validating themselves in writing. William Scheick explores logonomic clash within the works of northeastern colonial girls, whose writings usually check in nervousness now not commonplace in their male contemporaries. This examine gains the poetry of Mary English and Anne Bradstreet, the letter-journals of Esther Edwards Burr and Sarah Prince, the autobiographical prose of Elizabeth Hanson and Elizabeth Ashbridge, and the political verse of Phyllis Wheatley. those works, besides the writings of alternative colonial ladies, offer in particular noteworthy cases of bifurcations emanating from American colonial women's conflicted confiscation of male authority. Scheick unearths refined authorial uneasiness and subtextual tensions because of the try and draw legitimacy from male gurus and traditions.

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20 Authority and Female Authorship This process would likely explain why the extant writings of southern colonial women evince far fewer biblical allusions than do the documents left by their northern sisters. Strangers in a Strange Land Nevertheless, the details presently at hand pertaining to both the northern and southern colonies reinforce the impression, as given by Bradstreet s early concession that "Men can doe best, and Women know it well" (McElrath and Robb 1981, 7), that the ability to write was generally perceived as a male property.

As Mather s Ornaments equivocally indicates, ministers did not stress only women's obedience to God the Father; they also emphasized, as a sanctified sign of justification, women's submission to familial, ecclesiastical, and societal fathers. Congregationalist women like English were instructed, in terms of the Pauline epistles, that in the divine scheme women were naturally and spiritually subordinate to men, a position manifestly clear in the universal consequences of Eve's disobedience. In Ornaments, as we saw, Mather typically referred to the chief of these consequences as "the Curse .

During this interval nearly half of Mather s funeral orations concern women, whereas 75 percent of his peers' published sermons concern men (Andrews 1970, 28). Pertinently, in Ornaments Mather records his awareness of the predominance of women over men in church attendance. "Indeed, there are more Women than Men, in the Church," he observes early in his discourse; later he likewise asserts, "there are far more godly Women in the World, than there are godly Men; and our Church Communions give us a little Demonstration of it.

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