Feminism and Renaissance Studies

By Lorna Hutson | Go to book overview

4 The Tenth Muse: Gender, Rationality,
and the Marketing of Knowledge

Stephanie Jed

In 1650, Anne Bradstreet's brother-in-law published her poetry in London under the title The Tenth Muse, Lately Sprung Up in America. In 1657, the volume was annotated in William London's Catalogue [of] the Most Vendible Books in England… as “Mrs. Bradstreet. The 10. Muse, a Poem. 80.” In 1668, a volume appeared in Mexico City celebrating and commemorating the completion of the cathedral. It included a sonnet of Juana Inés de Asbaje with an epigraph exalting her as “a glorious honor of the Mexican Museum” (“glorioso honor del Mexicano Museo”). In Madrid in 1689, the printer Juan García Infanzón published the first edition of the works of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, describing her on the title page as “the Tenth Muse … who in various meters, languages and styles fertilizes various issues” (“Musa Dézima … Que en varios metros, idiomas, y estilos, fertiliza varios assumptos”). Finally, in 1683, in Oxford, the Ashmolean Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time, charging admission to “peasants and women-folk who gaze at the library as a cow might gaze at a new gate with such noise and trampling of feet that others are much disturbed.”1

My essay begins, against the background of this seventeenth-century compilation of “facts,” to form an intuition and a question. The intuition is: that the category “Tenth Muse” was implicated in the European politics of constructing the “New World” as a museum. After all, institutions of knowledge and history-making, such as the Escorial, the British Museum, the Archivo de las Indias, the archives of the trading companies, “natural” histories and collections of travel narratives, were united by the common “museal” project of ruling new lands and peoples and making them “vendible.”2 The category “Tenth Muse,” then, might provide an important interpretive key to the gender

From Patricia Parker and Margo Hendricks (eds.), Women, 'Race' and Writing in the Early
Modern Period (Routledge, 1994), 195–207. Reprinted with permission.

-106-

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Feminism and Renaissance Studies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Notes on Contributors vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Humanism After Feminism 19
  • 1: Did Women Have a Renaissance? 21
  • 2: Women Humanists 48
  • 3: The Housewife and the Humanists 82
  • 4: The Tenth Muse 106
  • Part II - Historicizing Femininity 125
  • 5: The Notion of Woman in Medicine, Anatomy, and Physiology 127
  • 6: Women on Top 156
  • 7: The 'Cruel Mother' 186
  • 8: Witchcraft and Fantasy in Early Modern Germany 203
  • Part III 231
  • 9: Diana Described 233
  • 10: Literary Fat Ladies and the Generation of the Text 249
  • 11: Margaret Cavendish and the Romance of Contract 286
  • 12: Surprising Fame 317
  • Part IV - Women's Agency 337
  • 13: Women on Top in the Pamphlet Literature of the English Revolution 339
  • 14: La Donnesca Mano 373
  • 15: Guilds, Male Bonding and Women's Work in Early Modern Germany 412
  • 16: Language, Power, and the Law 428
  • 17: Finding a Voice 450
  • Bibliography 468
  • Index 475
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