By Mary B. Moore
Mary B. Moore analyzes and provides context for love sonnet sequences by Italian, French, English, and American women poets in the light of current knowledge concerning attitudes women at the time they wrote. Through close readings of the poems combined with theory and criticism about constructs of women, historical events, and biographical contexts, Moore reveals patterns of revision among women poets that shed further light on the poets themselves, on Petrarchism as a convention, and on ideas about women. She focuses on Petrarchan sonnet sequences by women because the poems serve both as works of art and as documents that illuminate the range and limitations of female roles as erotic subjects (agents of speech, action, knowledge, and desire) as well as their more usual roles as erotic objects.
Combining theory with close reading, Moore enhances the value of many generally neglected poems by women. After a thorough discussion of the Petrachan sonnet tradition, she analyzes the work of Gaspara Stampa, Louise Labe, Lady Mary Wroth, Charlotte Smith, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Edna St. Vincent Millay.