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    Celestial philosophy: early modern women and the literary genres of philosophical expression (1640-1720)

    Qureshi, Masuda Khatun (2022) Celestial philosophy: early modern women and the literary genres of philosophical expression (1640-1720). PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This thesis is a study of how women writers used poetry and letters to engage with philosophical theories of the skies and universe in seventeenth-century England. It examines original and translated poetry in manuscript and print to understand how poetry was linked to philosophical ideas, concepts, and methods. This study discloses how poetry from the 1640s to the 1720s allowed women to develop ideas and contribute to philosophical debates. The thesis extends its examination of poetry by exploring how letters allowed women philosophers to engage with natural philosophy. The four chapters of this thesis investigate how poetry and letters were forms of philosophical expression. The first chapter assesses Hester Pulter’s uncirculated manuscript poems to assess how they participate in cultural and philosophical contexts. Chapter two studies the printed poems of Margaret Cavendish, exploring how her poetic language and imagery relate to early modern philosophical concepts and approaches. Chapter three turns to Lucy Hutchinson’s poetic translation of Lucretius to consider how translation practice and poetic techniques allow her to engage and adapt ancient philosophy in line with early modern theories of the universe. Together, these three chapters demonstrate how poetry enables Pulter, Cavendish and Hutchinson to reflect on, adapt, and oppose philosophical ideas. The final chapter explores how letters by women philosophers Cavendish, Damaris Masham, and Anne Conway also facilitate their access to philosophical knowledge in ways that allow them to respond to, adapt, and dispute theories of the skies and universe. In sum, the chapters interrogate what it means for women to write philosophically in genres between uncirculated manuscripts and published treatises. Though exploring the connections between poetry, letters and philosophy in discussions of the skies and universe, this thesis reveals the fluidity between the poem and the letter as genres of intellectual expression in seventeenth-century England.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2022 12:06
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 15:47


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