Networks of Care in Early Modern Women’s Maternal Fiction and Nonfiction (Panel)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Claire Richie
contact email: 

Northeast Modern Language Association 53rd Annual Covention, Baltimore MD, March 10-13, 2022

Panel: Networks of Care in Early Modern Women’s Maternal Fiction and Nonfiction

Chairs: Kate Albrecht (University of Miami), Claire Richie (Univesity of Miami)

This panel seeks to explore how Early Modern maternity is figured through various genres and creates social networks of care. From recipes to poetry, how do Early Modern women, within proto-feminist coteries, create a written record of their reproductive choices and roles as caregivers?

Early modern women existed in networks of interdependence within the home and their larger social circles. The often precarious and vulnerable realities of gaining an audience and publishing written work, when male-authored texts were considered authoritative, led Early modern women to catalog their daily realities in subversive ways, through recipes, household manuals, religious writings, and fiction. The circulation of these texts allowed women to craft social networks that often intimately involved their proto-feminist coteries in the culinary, medical, spiritual, and intellectual needs of their households. Expressed through recipes and literary texts, womens’ social networks crossed genres as modes of creative expression proliferated through more traditional literary works such as poetry and “non-literary” texts such as recipes.

These creative expressions created a culture of care in which Early Modern women expressed their anxieties around motherhood. From the literary works of recently (re)discovered Hester Pulter to Anne Bradstreet and Elizabeth Jocelin, maternal death figured as a primary anxiety for Early Modern women’s mental health with fiction as a prescription for maternal grief. This panel seeks to explore how Early Modern maternity is figured through various genres and creates social networks of care.

The study of nonfiction and fiction from the Early Modern domestic sphere, (re)figures intimate, vulnerable, and not often documented reproductive moments to form a window into Early Modern women as agency-filled caretakers, enacting authority and domestic expertise. How does the household and coterie function as a network of care in which Early Modern women can express autonomy and create a record of their economic and reproductive choices? How did the social networks that resulted in the exchange of texts on reproductive duties crafted by women influence their roles as authorities on caregiving?

Please submit abstracts for papers through NeMLA: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/19506 by September 30, 2021.

Contact Kate Albrecht (katealbrecht@miami.edu) or Claire Richie (clairerichie@miami.edu) with inquiries.