Cavendish and Hutchinson (seminar)
This was a spring 2017 semester seminar led by Julie Crawford.
In many ways Margaret Cavendish (1623-73) and Lucy Hutchinson (1620-81) make strange bedfellows. One was a royalist and one a republican; one largely indifferent to religion and the other a devoted Calvinist; one an aggressive circulator of her work in print and the other largely committed to scribal publication. Yet they also had a surprising amount in common: both were actively involved in the central political conflicts of their time; both wrote widely printed and widely admired vindicatory accounts of their husbands’ political and military lives; both lived on large, redoubtable, and profoundly compromised estates in the north; both were actively interested in natural science; both were astonishingly erudite and prolific. This seminar seeks to examine what they shared as much as what divided them, and takes as its premise that Cavendish and Hutchinson were the complex heirs of what is often called “politically active” humanism. Participants will discuss many aspects of their work, including the books they read as well as the histories and other works they wrote, and the local, as well as national, contexts in which they undertook this work.
Director: Julie Crawford is Mark van Doren Professor of Humanities in the Department of English and Comparative Literature and Chair of Literature Humanities at Columbia University. She works on topics ranging from the history of sexuality to the history of reading, and is the author of two books, Marvelous Protestantism: Monstrous Births in Post-Reformation England (2005) and Mediatrix: Women, Politics, and Literary Production in Early Modern England (2014). She is currently completing a book entitled Margaret Cavendish’s Political Career.