Hers Is A Body In Trouble With Language: Seventeenth-Century Female Prophecy As Text And Experience
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This thesis is an analysis of female prophecy as it is constituted, represented or performed in seventeenth-century texts. I consider both the way in which prophecy is socially constructed and the role of prophetic experience in the development of feminine subjectivity. I argue that interpreting prophecy within the context of psychopathology or feminism (to take two examples of critical practice) colludes in the early modern objectification of women's speech and somatic experience. Using an interdisciplinary approach, I argue that prophecy needs to be understood as a media event and as a site of discursive proliferation. In this study, I examine texts which participate in the explication of a prophetic event and interrogate their intentions and functions. I suggest that an inclusive reading of prophecy allows the critic to recuperate women's agency. My study of prophecy combines the seventeenth-century notion of prophecy as a category for diverse linguistic and bodily manifestations with an analysis of the rhetorical strategies of the prophetic text. In the course of this thesis I consider: 1. the work of various scholars who have attempted to explicate the relations between gender and radical religiosity; 2. how a comparison between hysteria and prophecy illuminates the primacy of psychopathology in the interpretation of seventeenth- and nineteenth-century women's experience; 3. the interplay between scriptural models of prophecy and early modern biblical exegesis; 4. the role of texts in (in)validating female bodily experience and 5. how seventeenth century antisectarian texts attempt to police the female creative imagination.
AuthorsNazareth, Lisa Michelle
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