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Victorian Poetry and the Culture of the Heart$
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Kirstie Blair

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199273942

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199273942.001.0001

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‘Ill-lodged in a woman’s breast’: Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the Woman’s Heart

‘Ill-lodged in a woman’s breast’: Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the Woman’s Heart

Chapter:
(p.103) 3 ‘Ill-lodged in a woman’s breast’: Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the Woman’s Heart
Source:
Victorian Poetry and the Culture of the Heart
Author(s):

Kirstie Blair (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199273942.003.0004

Gender was central to accounts of heart disease given that women's hearts were generally supposed to be weaker and more emotionally vulnerable than those of men. This chapter examines the gendered discourse of the heart and how it impinged upon the work of female poets, and on their pathologized bodies. It argues that, in contrast to Angela Leighton's influential account of how women poets wrote ‘against’ the heart, female poets could find significant agency and value in heart-centred discourse. After briefly discussing works by Felicia Hemans, Letitia Landon, and Adelaide Procter in this light, the chapter turns to Barrett Browning, focusing particularly on the vexed use of heart imagery in Aurora Leigh.

Keywords:   gender, body, female poets, Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh

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