Monograph in Progress

Touching Science: Poetry, Anatomy, and the Early Modern Female Form tells an alternative history of women’s engagement with science. Instead of looking for exceptional examples of female scientists throughout history, I turn to female poets who were engaging with the inquiries and methods of new anatomical science in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. These poets, I argue, share in creating knowledge of the body based on the tactile and material methods privileged by new anatomy. Through the book’s paired analysis of anatomical techniques and women’s poetic practices, I reveal a pervasive early modern experiment with new ways to translate the three-dimensional body to the two-dimensional page. Simultaneously, I use this interdisciplinary approach to establish new ways of reading early women’s writing that foreground the intimate relations among writer, reader, and text.

Published Work

“Knowing Mary Wroth’s Pamphilia.” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies. (Forthcoming, Summer 2020)

This essay works at the intersection of gender studies, history of science, and formalism to consider Mary Wroth’s representation of the female body in Folger manuscript V.a.104. Reading Wroth’s poetry alongside representational practices inaugurated by anatomical science, I argue that Wroth uses the materiality of her poetic pages to critique and respond to violent treatment of the female body in sixteenth and seventeenth-century English lyric conventions. Wroth’s poetry is centrally concerned with how to represent, and thereby know, the female body on the poetic page. Consequently, our reading of Wroth’s manuscript needs to account for how poetry and page work together to facilitate the reader’s knowledge of Pamphilia. By drawing on early modern anatomical methods for translating fleshly body to flat page, I show how Wroth’s innovative use of the poetic page results in a new kind of encounter among writing, reading, and textual bodies. More broadly, this essay makes a case for further study of the material intersections of early modern literature and science.

“Granular Reading: Texture, Language, and Surface Marks in Titus Andronicus.” Titus Andronicus: The State of Play. Ed. Farah Karim-Cooper. Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2019. 179-99.

Exploring the intersection between surface and close reading, this essay argues that Lavinia’s character in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus offers a model for reading based on texture, tactility, and feeling. Lavinia’s rape, as critics have long argued, forces her to find an alternative to speaking and writing – the play’s dominant communicative modes. I revisit the moment when Lavinia “scrawls” her rapists’ names in the sand and reveal how the sand itself, as an exceptionally textured and inherently ephemeral medium, calls attention to the problematic readings of Lavinia offered by the play text. Instead, Lavinia’s “granular” communication connects reading more directly to the highly embodied experience of playgoing.

“Feminist Queer Temporalities in Aemilia Lanyer and Lucy Hutchinson.” Co-authored with Penelope Anderson. Gendered Temporalities in the Early Modern World. Ed. Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks. Amsterdam University Press, 2018. 159-84.

In this essay, we argue that the multiple temporalities of Aemilia Lanyer’s “The Description of Cooke-ham” and Lucy Hutchinson’s Order and Disorder model a mutually galvanizing rather than antagonistic relationship between feminist and queer theory. Lanyer’s and Hutchinson’s texts return to longstanding feminist concerns: female communities, the foundational stories of patriarchy, and a focus on desire both procreative and emphatically not. But the theories the texts themselves manifest do the work of queering—not as an alternative to, but in concert with—these feminist concerns.

“Intimate Correspondence: Negotiating the Materials of Female Friendship in Margaret Cavendish’s Sociable Letters.” Women’s Writing (November 2017). DOI: 10.1080/09699082.2017.1395725.

In this article, I argue that Margaret Cavendish uses ‘Sociable Letters’ and the female friendship within its pages to intervene in early modern epistolary traditions and negotiate alternatives for conventional markers of intimacy between correspondents. Through a close analysis of several letters in Cavendish’s printed collection, I find that memory and shared personal history emerge as key components to Cavendish’s proposed modes of intimacy. The fictional friendship between female correspondents in ‘Sociable Letters’ contributes provocative new insights to scholarly arguments on Cavendish’s authorial mode, as well as critical work on early modern letters and the relationships scripted within their pages.