- Some Current Publications
Wilkerson, Virginia L. “Behn’s The Widow Ranter.” The Explicator 66.2 (2008): 73–75. Wilkerson notes that Behn’s choice of the title for her play is surprising, given that “the character of Ranter is almost a distraction from the story line” rather than its central figure, but she suggests that “Behn employs Ranter to illustrate the advantage gained by taking the wearing of men’s clothing to another level of representation, and thus she deemed her character important enough for the tragicomedy’s title to carry her name.”
See also: SOUTHERNE (Jaher), GENDER & SEXUALITY (Wiseman), POLITICS & RELIGION (Visconsi), RACE & ETHNICITY (Doyle).
Anstey, Peter, and Michael Hunter. “Robert Boyle’s ‘Designe about Natural History.’” Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008): 83–126. Anstey and Hunter cite a 1666 letter from Boyle to Henry Oldenburg in which he “elaborated in a sophisticated way the salient Baconian doctrine which thereafter formed the centerpiece of Boyle’s methodology in natural philosophy.” They read this letter as a turning point in Boyle’s career, as the first and most comprehensive explanation of Boyle’s “Designe about Natural History” and his debt to Sir Francis Bacon’s ideas about compiling and arranging a natural history, and as a key to understanding many of Boyle’s later works.
See also: LOCKE (Walmsley), SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY (Peterfreund).
Kellett, Katherine R. “Performance, Performativity, and Identity in Margaret Cavendish’s The Convent of Pleasure.” SEL 48 (2008): 419–442. Kellett responds to the debate about whether Cavendish’s Convent of Pleasure is a stage drama or a closet drama by shifting attention from the play’s performability [End Page 69] to its performativity, applying Judith Butler’s queer theory to argue that the play “highlights the instabilities of identity and of performance as a genre.” She describes the setting of the play as a “curiously immaterial space” that resists stabilization and “suggests that the subversive power of identity exists not merely in bodies, but in the discourse that produces those bodies.” However, Kellett questions Butler’s strict distinction between “performance” and “performativity”: noting that not only the identity but also the very materiality of the bodies within The Convent of Pleasure is “conspicuously ambiguous,” she claims that the play “resists corporal reification, complicating Butler’s contention that a subject is presumed underneath all performances by revealing that subjectivity can never be stable.”
Mascetti, Yaakov A. “A ‘World of Nothing, but Pure Wit’: Margaret Cavendish and the Gendering of the Imaginary.” Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas 6 (2008): 1–31. Through her “wordy, intricate, and often self-contradictory writing style, combined with complex, paradoxical, regressive, reflexive, and counterintuitive conceptions of matter and motion,” Margaret Cavendish carves out a place for the female writer who deals in “wit, fancy, and imagination, as opposed to the patriarchal framework of objective truths.” Comparing Cavendish’s writings to those of Descartes, Bacon, and Hobbes, Mascetti claims that she constructed a female world not opposed against but rather “parallel to the masculine dominion of objectivity, where she manifested and realized the inalienable right of a woman to think within the intimacy of her mind and her house.”
Scott-Bauman, Elizabeth. “‘Bake’d in the Oven of Applause’: The Blazon and the Body in Margaret Cavendish’s Fancies.” Women’s Writing 15 (2008): 86–106. Despite former scholars’ arguments that the recipe poems of Cavendish’s Poems, and Fancies feminize the language of science by combining it with the language of the kitchen, Scott-Bauman argues that the recipe poems “are an engagement with the (male) Cavalier poets as much as with the kitchen, and that the kitchen itself is no simple signifier of domestic femininity.” The recipe poems mimic the cavaliers’ use of the blazon and “combine food and natural philosophy images playfully to deflate seventeenth-century ideas about gender” and to transform “the female figure of Nature” from the dissected object of male experimentation” into “a cannibalistic and self-recreating power.” It is Cavendish’s interest in natural philosophy, Scott-Bauman concludes, that influences her focus “on the body’s vitality and function, rather than the allure...