Early Modern Women Writers and the Shaping of a Newer Formalism

deadline for submissions: 
August 5, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Maria Teresa Micaela Prendergast/ The College of Wooster
contact email: 

As twenty-first century scholars have continued the work of identifying, editing, and giving historical context to writings by early modern women, they have turned increasingly to larger questions of reading and interpreting these works—questions that have recently gained particular attention in Lara Dodds and Michelle M. Dowd's edited collection, Renaissance Formalism and Early Modern Women's Writings. This panel seeks to continue the process of discovering, interpreting, and adding to new formalist and historical formalist readings of women's texts by moving beyond analysis of such quasi-canonical writers as Mary Wroth, Margaret Cavendish, Marguerite de Navarre, and Vittoria Colonna.  Panelists, hence, will follow Sasha Roberts's argument that scholars should open up formalist readings of works by women to  include forms of expression that move beyond literary texts. Such readings can include analysis of "non-literary" letters, political pamphlets, or miscellanies, as well as non-scripted media—embroidery, lace-making, or miniature paintings, for example.


Papers can, thus, engage in new formalist readings within a variety of contexts, including, 

  • cultural formalist readings of conventional forms of expression by women
  • collaborative writings by women
  • miscellanies owned by women
  • the use of rhetorical figures—or avoidance of them
  • issues of class and race within formalist readings of women's texts
  • shape, texture, ink, paper, paint, thread, and spacing as forms of aesthetic expression
  • collaborative women's writings
  • formalist readings of recently "discovered" women writers
  • the shaping of texts by and for particular readers
  • texts by those who represent themselves as women but may not actually be women, such as the pseudonymous Jane Anger or Constantia Munda.


To participate, please email the following details to Maria Teresa Prendergast (mprendergast@wooster.edu) by August 5 in a single Word document, following RSA guidelines:

  • Full name, current affiliation, and email address
  • Paper title (15 word maximum)
  • Paper abstract (150 word maximum) along with key words associated with your paper
  • Short cv (1 page maximum)


Contact Maria Teresa (Terry) Prendergast at the above email address with any questions.