Women's Writing About Beauty in Early Modern England--RSA March 27-29, 2014

full name / name of organization: 
Edith Snook/University of New Brunswick
contact email: 

Renaissance Society of America, New York, March 27-29, 2014

Female beauty—often codified as fair skin, rosy cheeks, red lips, and blonde hair—is the frequent subject of literature in the sixteenth- and seventeenth- century England. Critics have explored how male writers used beauty's signs to articulate poetic identity, male subjectivity, dominance, competition, fear, desire, and political ambition, amongst other things. Much less has been said about women's writing about beauty, although English women also wrote about appearance in poetry, fiction, and drama, in letters, prayers and meditations, advice, and life-writing, and recorded its practices in account books and recipe collections.

This panel will explore the complexities of how women contemplated, used, rejected, or revised early modern beauty ideals and practices. Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers that explore how women writing in England between 1550 and 1650 responded to some aspect of early modern beauty culture. Papers might consider, but are not limited to, issues around race, colonialism, class, politics, religion, material culture, aging, ugliness, marks, health, disguise, sexuality, literary history, knowledge, or social relationships.

Please send a 150-word abstract, the paper's title, and a CV of not more than 300 words to Edith Snook (esnook@unb.ca) by 27 May 2013.