‘Love's Interest’: Agency and Identity in a Seventeenth-Century Nun's Letters
Article first published online: 17 FEB 2006
Volume 3, Issue 2, pages 149–158, March 2006
How to Cite
Pfannebecker, M. (2006), ‘Love's Interest’: Agency and Identity in a Seventeenth-Century Nun's Letters. Literature Compass, 3: 149–158. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-4113.2006.00309.x
- Issue published online: 24 FEB 2006
- Article first published online: 17 FEB 2006
- Literature Compass 2 (2006) : 10.1111/j.1741-4113.2006.00309.x
This essay won the 2005 Literature Compass Graduate Essay Prize, Seventeenth Century Section.
In studies of seventeenth-century women's writing, emphasis has recently shifted from the more traditional literary canon to investigations of ‘non-literary’ manuscript text. As James Daybell notes, the vast majority of texts authored by early modern women are letters (161). Many of these letters explicitly engage with religious matters or are pervaded by the religiosity of the speaker. Winefrid Thimelby, a recusant Englishwoman who became a nun and lived at an English convent in France throughout much of the Civil War and Restoration, is one of these letter-writers. In this paper, I argue that not despite, but because of her religious seclusion, Thimelby's letters facilitate her engagement in power relations outside convent walls. In this context, the self-construction of the letter-writer is examined with reference to Stephen Greenblatt's notion of self-fashioning.