Public Speech

As we have already seen, one persistent perception of poetry by women has been that it belongs in and focuses on the private sphere, on intimate, personal and domestic experience (of Plath, for example, one critic applauds the masculine qualities of her writing, saying 'something muscular shows up in her work, as unusual in women poets as visceral self-pity seems common').1 The public sphere of politics and history, so this perception goes, belongs to men. Ann Rosalind Jones cites fifteenth-century restrictions on women's education in the culturally valued skills of rhetoric 'because it belongs to the public realm, the sphere of law, politics, and diplomacy, which was firmly defined as off-limits to women'.2

There are a number of immediate responses to make to this charge. The first is that designations as to who belongs in or out of the public sphere of politics depend very much on how one defines 'private', 'public' and 'politics'. It depends where, if at all, one draws the boundaries. I say 'if at all' because, as this book has already argued, one of the hallmarks of poetry by women and of the new range of theories which have arisen to explicate it is a refusal, or at the very least a rethinking, of the kinds of binaries which would see public and private, political and personal as opposite poles. So although it seems feasible to argue, as Bertram does, that 'many women poets encounter difficulties in relation to asserting an authoritative public voice', such a proposition raises


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Women's Poetry


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 232

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?