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“Quoted in the Margent of such a Story”: Elizabeth Cary’s Political History and the Limits of Biography
WhenWednesday, Mar. 29, 2017, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Campus locationCommunications Building (CMU)
Campus roomCMU 202/204
Event typesAcademics, Lectures/Seminars, Special Events
Event sponsorsThe Classics, Medieval, and Early Modern Studies Graduate Research Cluster……

Allison Meyer (English, Seattle University) presents this lecture on Elizabeth Cary’s folio The History of the Life, Reign, and Death of Edward II (written c. 1626-1627 and published in 1680). This folio was the first political history written by an Englishwoman. Attributed to her husband, Henry Cary, Earl of Falkland, until the twentieth century, Edward II is now most frequently read through biographical approaches that see its puzzling depiction of Queen Isabel, Edward’s consort, as evidence of the anomalous work of the canonized woman writer. In this talk, Meyer proposes that The History of Edward II’s view of queenship can best be understood in the context of Cary’s thoughtful revisions of chronicle history, historical drama, and the generic models of early modern political history written by Thomas More and Francis Bacon. Attending to Cary’s use of varied genres of historiography in Edward II reveals her authorial concerns and strategies as those shared with, rather than divergent from, the male historiographers of the early modern period who were also interested in questions of queenship and royal women’s political participation. Resituating Cary’s political history alongside its historical and generic precedents—and challenging our fundamental assumptions about narrative historiography as a genre uninterested in women in the process—gives The History of Edward II its critical due.

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