Volume 3, number 2
Fall 1998

From Nancy Weitz Miller, President of the Society:

Husband : But when all our money is gone we shall be but poor Princes. (The Apochriphal Ladies 643)
Wife : O, money doth all things. (AL 649).
Capt. : But we have no Money. (The Sociable Companions 44)
Roger : . . . What are you summoned for, a bag of Money?
Get-all : Indeed that is the design. (SC 61).

The time has finally come for the MCS to put its hand out and ask members to pay dues for 1998-99 in order to allow us to keep growing as a center for communication and opportunities for members. Aside from other areas of growth, of immediate concern to us is that we are able to continue to produce the Newsletter, which (you will see when you flip the page) now contains reviews of articles and books (many by members!) related to Cavendish and her work. We would like to see this voice of the Society steadily expand, and this can only happen when we are able to relieve the Ohio State University Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies from our burden and support the Newsletter's production and postage ourselves. You will find the dues schedule and registration form within. If you are able, we ask that you consider the Lifetime Membership option, which would free you from the trouble and expense of exchanging currency in subsequent years. I would also like to call your attention to the final Call for Papers for the 3rd International Cavendish Conference and Meeting in Paris next June. I hope you can join us there and, for all members attending the Modern Language Association conference in San Francisco in December, at the MCS panel on "Cavendish and the Early Modern Canon." You will find the Paris Call and abstracts of the papers that will be presented on the MLA panel within. I hope to see you at both of these events! -- Nancy W. Miller

Margaret Cavendish Society Discussion List and Website

The MCS continues to sponsor an active discussion list via email. The list links scholars working on projects related to MC and early modern women's writing. It is a vehicle for collaboration, conversation, querries, and calls for participation in upcoming publications and conferences.

To subscribe to the listserve, send an e-mail message (with blank subject field) to : [email protected]

Type only this message : SUBSCRIBE MARCAV-L


James Fitzmaurice, review editor

Women, Science and Medicine, 1500-1700. Lynette Hunter and Sarah Hutton Eds. Phoenix Mill: Sutton Publishing, Ltd., 1997. 292 pp. £14.99 paperback.

Lynette Hunter and Sarah Hutton have collected an intriguing group of essays that highlights the contributions of women to early modern science. Their collection also serves as a reminder of the complex nature of early modern scientific inquiry, and of how far removed it was from what we currently consider "science." The book is a valuable resource for any student of early modern science or culture. The book offers two essays for Cavendish scholars: Frances Harris's study of Mary Evelyn's response to Cavendish and Sarah Hutton's comparison of Anne Conway's and Cavendish's natural philosophies. Harris's study uses Mary Evelyn's comments about Cavendish to begin an exploration of Evelyn's life as a scientifically active woman. Harris points to the irony of the highly-educated Evelyn's negative response to Cavendish and her intellectual pursuits. While the essay is an interesting study of Evelyn, it offers little for Cavendish scholars as she is used primarily as a frame for Evelyn. Sarah Hutton's comparison of Conway and Cavendish is more fruitful ground. She examines the similarities and differences between their personal styles and systems of natural philosophy. Cavendish's eccentricity is, perhaps too easily, thrown into relief against Conway's demureness. However, their natural philosophies are outlined and contrasted in detail. For students awash in the sea of early modern natural philosophy, Hutton's explanations are a valuable resource. The essay also partially answers the question of why early modern women chose to pursue natural philosophy. It was, as she says "A new field of inquiry [which] did not have the weight of book-learning to support it, and it existed outside the institutions of learning," so women felt free to explore it, despite their possible lack of book-learning. Particularly noteworthy among the remaining essays is Adrian Wilson's reconstruction of the mid-wife Eleanor Willughby's story, which interests on its own merits and suggests possibilities for the recovery of other early modern women's stories. Sarah Hutton's interpretation of Bacon is an important answer to the tide of anti-Baconianism. Elizabeth Tebeaux traces the development of technical writing by and for women and theorizes compellingly about women's increasing literacy and sophistication in textual comprehension. -- Sarah E. Skwire, The University of Chicago

Anna Battigelli. Margaret Cavendish and the Exiles of the Mind. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1998. $32.00. 192 pp. ISBN 0-8131-2068-3.

Anna Battigelli speculates that Margaret Cavendish – encouraged by a version of the Platonic love doctrine that emphasized women's intellect as much as their beauty – early on began to perceive herself "as a thinking self " (17). Margaret Cavendish and the Exiles of the Mind demonstrates that Cavendish never abandoned this perception, exploring throughout her life the relations between "the inner world of the mind" and "the external world" (24). Should we try to impose our ideals on the world? Should we flee the world into an "imaginative retreat"? Can our minds discover the nature of reality itself? These questions pervade not only Cavendish's dramas, whose characters often enact the active vs. contemplative debate common in cavalier writing, but also, Battigelli brilliantly shows, her scientific and philosophical writing. Cavendish's belief that atomism challenged "the reliability of the senses," for instance, led her to question whether one can ever attain the "degree of certainty" that emboldened many to impose their beliefs on others (52). Insisting on the "inevitable interposition" of the self "in the process of perception," Cavendish's writing challenges all those – religious writers, Thomas Hobbes, or the Royal Society – who confidently maintain the possibility of attaining "objective certainty" (115). One strength of Battigelli's text is its refusal to limit Cavendish's interests to issues of gender; Cavendish engaged with many of her culture's intellectual debates, several of which remain hotly contested today. Indeed Battigelli shows Cavendish critiquing the discourse of scientific objectivity at the moment of its emergence, anticipating feminists (Sarah Harding, Donna Haraway) and practitioners of science studies who challenge it today (Rethinking Objectivity [Duke UP, 1994] explores issues Cavendish explored). This study succeeds at recovering the intellect and social engagement of a figure who, before Battigelli's book, many had excluded from the ranks of those about whom one writes an "intellectual biography" (9).
-- Scott Paul Gordon, Lehigh University

The International Margaret Cavendish Conference in Paris "A female intellectual within her cultural milieu : Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673) or the interior exile."

11-12 June 1999 University of Paris 8 - Saint-Denis

Dear all, Just a short note to let everybody know how things are shaping up. We are all getting very excited here about the event, and the University of Paris 8 (more particularly the "Departement des Etudes litteraires anglaises," to which I belong, and the "Centre d'Etudes feminines," headed by Helene Cixous) has already proved very generous in granting us its warm support AND a fair amount of money, which will help us keep the conference fees relatively reasonable. So all is going well on that front. We have already received about 20 abstracts, all of them exciting, and given the number of people who have shown some interest for the conference at various stages, we are now slightly worried that we might in the end get too many proposals for the space available. A reading committee, made up of four independent people, dedicated to the success of the conference, was created last month, and a provisional program should be in place soon. Our two guest speakers, who have responded with great enthusiasm to my prompting, will be Dr Elaine Hobby (Loughborough University, GB) and Dr David Norbrook (Oxford University). Many other scholars have sent really exciting proposals: for instance, Prof. Luc Borot (Montpellier University, France), Prof. Edward Corp (Paris 7, France), Prof. Jim Fitzmaurice (Northern Arizona University, US), Prof; Frederic Ogee (Paris 7, France), Dr Patricia Phillips (GB), Prof. Timothy Raylor (Carleton College, Minnesota, US), Dr Joad Raymond (Aberdeen University, GB), Prof. Hilda Smith (University of Cincinnati, US), Dr. Susan Wiseman (Warwick University, GB) among many others… I can already say that the conference will be truly interdisciplinary (as well as truly international) as there will be historians and philosophers alongide literary scholars, and I am very happy about that. If you know people who might be interested, let them know about the whole thing: the conference will of course be on Cavendish as a female and feminist writer, but also on her connections with the science and philosophy of her days and on the milieu of the Royalist exiles. Just a detail: a guided tour to Versailles Palace will be organized on Sunday, June 13th (in the afternoon), so make sure that you stay at least one more day to come with us to this beautiful seventeenth-century palace which was built for Louis XIV. We are looking forward to welcoming you in Paris in a few months' time, and I hope that you will have a thoroughly enjoyable visit in Paris. We'll certainly do our best to make it all a truly worthwhile experience. More in January, when we'll send you registration forms and various documents. Thank you, and I am looking forward to hearing from you very soon, Line Cottegnies, Conference organizer

New and Noteworthy Work

Mary Baine Campbell. Wonder and Science: Representing Worlds in Early Modern Europe. (Cornell UP).

According to Campbell, this work includes a chapter "about Cavendish and Hooke, and the book as a whole attempts to create a political-literary context for the Blazing World that includes burgeoning empire, emerging prose fiction, and astronomical/microscopic discoveries of new planets and new scales."

James Fitzmaurice. "The Cavendishes, the Evelyns, and Teasing in Verse and Prose." The Journal of the Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association 16 (1995-96*): 1-25. *To appear in 1998.

Rebecca Totaro delivered a paper titled, "'Fly from that Pestilent Destruction': Plague in the Works of Margaret Cavendish," at the Utopian Studies Conference in October.

Totaro is also the author of an article touching on Cavendish, "English Plague and New World Promise," forthcoming from the Journal for Utopian Studies. This work is part of her dissertation, Bubonic Plague in English Utopias 1515-1666.

Susanne Woods and Margaret Hannay are editors of the forthcoming (1999 or early 2000) MLA title, Teaching Tudor and Stuart Women Writers.

The book will contain an essay on Margaret Cavendish by Anne Shaver, and, among other resources, extensive archival information and bibliographies on early modern British women by Georgianna Ziegler, Suzanne W. Hull, and Sara Jayne Steen.

Sarah R. Moreman. "Learning Their Language: Cavendish's Construction of an Empowering Vitalistic Atomism." Explorations in Renaissance Culture 23 (1997): 129-44.

Moreman has recently completed her dissertation, "Every Wise Woman Buildeth Her House": Margaret Cavendish's Construction of Authorial Self. Oddvar Holmesland. "Margaret Cavendish's The Blazing World: Natural Art and the Body Politic" forthcoming in Studies in Philology. This article grew out of a paper presented at the Oxford MC conference.


CONTENTS: Introduction: Birth, Breeding and Self-Fashioning; Gender and Serious Play; Women and the New Science Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle: A Brief Chronology Select Bibliography/Recommended Readings TEXTS: Birth, Breeding and Self-Fashioning 1. A True Relation of My Birth and Breeding (1656) 2. Selections from CCXI Sociable Letters [Preface & letters #16, 51, 55, 90, 93, 115, 119, 137, 138, 143, and 150] 3. Preface to Orations [re. crabbed reader] 4. Mary Evelyn, Letter to Mr. Bohun, c. 1667. Gender and Serious Play 5. The Convent of Pleasure 6. Preface to The World's Olio 7. Female Orations Women and the New Science 8. The Description of a New World called the Blazing-World 9. Four poems from Poems and Fancies 10. Francis Bacon, New Atlantis 11. Letters to MC from Joseph Glanvill, W. Charlton, and Christiaan Huygens 12. Aphra Behn, Translator's preface to Fontenelle's Plurality of Worlds.

Send news of your Cavendish-related publications, works-in-progress, conference papers, special lectures, and dissertations (those you are writing or those you are directing) to Deborah Burks for inclusion in the newsletter.

Margaret Cavendish at the MLA

At the recent MLA in San Francisco (December 27-30), the MCS sponsored its first special session, "Margaret Cavendish and the Early Modern Canon." Nancy W. Miller, President of the MCS, served as chair. If you missed the session and wish to read the papers, you might contact the panelists directly or click here for brief abstracts

Margaret Cavendish Society Board

For details of the Margaret Cavendish Society Board, please click here.

Other information

The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation is planning a special issue devoted to the millenia: 1700, 1800, and 1900 (to be published in 2000). Those interested in submitting essays or discussing ideas should contact Robert Markley, Editor, EC:TI

Teaching Materials Archive: Brandie Siegfried reports that she has heard much excitement about the idea of a teaching materials archive, but as yet has had few contributions. Please send syllabi, descriptions of projects, assignments, handouts, web-site addresses – send whatever you currently use, so this can become an active resource! Send materials and inquiries to Brandie Siegfried, English Department, 3169 JKHB, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602.

The Society for the Study of Early Modern Women has established a fund in memory of Josephine A. Roberts, who died in an automobile accident in August 1996. The money will be used to subsidize the substantial costs of publishing Roberts' edition of the second volume of Mary Wroth's Urania. Suzanne Gossett and Janel Mueller have finished the edition for the Renaissance English Text Society. Contributions may be sent to Anne Cruz, Treasurer EMW, Dept of Spanish, M/C 315, U of Illinois at Chicago, 601 Morgan Street, Chicago, IL 60607-7117. (Please mark checks for the Josephine Roberts publication fund.)

Deborah G. Burks, Editor Margaret Cavendish Society Department of English The Ohio State University – Lima Campus 4240 Campus Drive Lima, OH 45804