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When is a Wife Still a Singlewoman?

Monday, September 9, 2019 - 07:00

With its emphasis on the details and proofs of heterosexual intercourse within marriage (or the lack thereof) this article doesn’t bring much to the LHMP. Still interesting in terms of the concerns of women’s lives, but not much to say here.

And with that, we conclude this collection of papers on singlewomen in medieval and early modern England. Next week I hope to start my series on "the foundational texts of the history of gender and sexuality that everyone else is in conversation with"--possibly leavened with some other shorter items because this is a lot of weighty stuff.

In the mean time, the empty spots in the blog schedule are going to be filled with "Heather gets caught up on doing book reviews" for the next few weeks.

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Full citation: 

Amster, Mara. 2003. “’Frances Howard and Middleton and Rowley’s The Changeling: Trials, Tests, and the Legibility of the Virgin Body” in The Single Woman in Medieval and Early Modern England: Her Life and Representation, ed. by Laurel Amtower and Dorothea Kehler. Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Tempe. ISBN 0-06698-306-6

Publication summary: 

A collection of articles on the general topic of how single women are represented in history and literature in medieval and early modern England. Not all of the articles are clearly relevant to the LHMP but I have included all the contents.

Frances Howard and Middleton and Rowley’s The Changeling

This article looks at the legal case brought in 1613 by Frances Harding for annulment of her marriage, based on the claim that her husband was unable to have sexual intercourse with her. Her argument was that, as she desired to become a mother, she needed the marriage annulled so that she could marry a more capable husband. The testimony and questioning in the case largely centered around physical “proof” of her virginity, as her husband was known to be sexually active with other women. While the relevance of the article to the collection’s theme is along the lines of “how can a married woman also be single?” it doesn’t have much relevance to the Project. 

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