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The Paratextual Profusion of Radical Sectarian Women's Writing of the 1640s.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date1/08/2007
JournalProse Studies
Journal number2
Volume29
Pages153 - 177
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Using Gérard Genette's concept of the "paratext," this article explores the many and various circumscriptions that characterize much seventeenth-century radical religious writing: multiple titles, epigraphs, prefaces, dedicatory epistles, and marginalia. Through an examination of the work of two radical sectarian writers from the 1640s - Katherine Chidley, an Independent, and Mary Cary, a millenarian prophet - the essay analyses the ways in which their writings' paratextual apparatuses serve to negotiate their precarious position on the margins of mainstream religious culture. It is argued that, through paratextual processes of imitation, dispersal and proliferation, the authority of both text and author is simultaneously invoked, asserted and deferred. It is also argued that, precisely because of this complex relation to discursive authority, these processes are highly gendered, thereby suggesting that an analysis of paratextuality contributes to an understanding of sectarian writing as the site of the first major entry into public discursive space by English women writers.

Bibliographic note

RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : English Language and Literature