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Conspiracy and VirtueWomen, Writing, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century England$
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Susan Wiseman

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199205127

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199205127.001.0001

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(p.33) 1 RHETORIC
Conspiracy and Virtue

Susan Wiseman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Women's theoretical exclusion from the political sphere generated not silence but highly developed linguistic and figurative responses in seventeenth century England. This chapter analyses women's involvement in politics by examining the use of the example in seventeenth century texts. It concentrates on exemplarity because of its pervasive presence in early modern writing, because of the tensions it sometimes generated for readers, and because of the way it shows gender at work in the interpretative acts of readers and writers. Although the seventeenth century is often characterised as a time when exemplarity became synonymous with mere authority, it might be more accurate to say that the seventeenth century had its own debates on exemplarity. Rather than being ‘merely’ ornament, the examples in an early modern text gave the reader a route, but one which, by the seventeenth century at least, not only was uncertain but might be experienced as such.

Keywords:   women, political sphere, seventeenth century England, politics, seventeenth century texts, modern writing, gender, exemplarity, writers

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