“’Boasting of silence’: Women Readers in a Patriarchal State”

by Jessica C. Murphy

Brayman Hackel, Heidi. “’Boasting of silence’: Women Readers in a Patriarchal State.” in Kevin Sharpe and Steven N. Zwicker Eds. Reading, Society and Politics in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003. 101-121.

“This essay considers three prescribed forms of female readerly silence—restraint from public reading, limitations on linguistic proficiency and abstention from vocal criticism—as the context for women’s habitual silence in the margins of their books” (101).

As she does more extensively in her book, Hackel here reconstructs the reading experience of early modern women from more evidence than simply marginalia because “women often demonstrated otherwise that books played an important role in their lives” (114).

[the book I refer to is Reading Material in Early Modern England: Print, Gender, and Literacy. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005.]