Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

  • Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 3:45pm

Fisher-Bennett Hall Room 401

One of the central challenges of studying early modern women’s texts is that so many of them have been lost, have survived as fragments, or were never completed. Rather than needing to be deconstructed like the conflated Shakespearean texts that have become so familiar over hundreds of years of editing, the extant works of many women need to be framed in a way that enables us to understand their already deconstructed state. This talk meditates upon the paradoxical connections between the unfinished and the infinite, and the way genre and gender mediate the relationship between them in Mary Wroth’s The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania. Housed in the Newberry Library, the unfinished manuscript continuation of the second part of Wroth’s prose romance reveals her compositional practice of leaving blank spaces so that she could go back and insert imbedded poems into the narrative. In several instances, she never did. How do we read those blanks? How do we read something that is not so much absent as non-existent?