Catalogue


Errant plagiary : the life and writing of Lady Sarah Cowper, 1644-1720 /
Anne Kugler.
imprint
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 2002.
description
viii, 288 p.
ISBN
0804734186 (acid-free paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
author
imprint
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 2002.
isbn
0804734186 (acid-free paper)
catalogue key
4716583
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Anne Kugler is Assistant Professor of History at John Carroll University.
Excerpts
Flap Copy
Over the course of sixteen yearsfrom 1700 to 1716Lady Sarah Cowper kept a truly remarkable diary, comprising over 2,300 pages of intimate commentary, not only on her personal life but also on religion, politics, and society in early modern England. Throughout this revealing text, she interweaves her own words with unattributed quotations from other writingsconduct manuals, sermons, periodicals, and other forms of prescriptive literaturein order to valorize her own identity and her claims to authority, both within her family and within a wider public sphere. Not only did Lady Sarah borrow the words of others, this "errant plagiarist" reordered and reshaped texts in ways that often subverted their original meaning. Her diary stands as a remarkably explicit record of how an eighteenth-century woman might read and actively interpret the gender and social ideologies of her era in ways that did not always fit the original intentions of the authors of prescriptive literature. Self-righteous, unhappy in her marriage, socially insecure, and under the stress of the murder trial of her youngest son, Lady Sarah began her diary at the age of fifty-six. Using extensive extracts from the diary, the author recounts Lady Sarah's conflicts with her husband and sons, her uneasy social rounds, her widowhood, and, most notably, her intellectual and spiritual life. The story of Lady Sarah, with the vivid descriptions of her emotional and intellectual outpourings in her diary, allows a close examination of the relationship between the large corpus of prescriptive literature of the period (particularly as it related to women and their roles) and actual practice. Through its exploration of the life and work of an articulate, thoughtful woman, the book also casts light on the interworkings of the period's hierarchies of gender, rank, and agehierarchies ordinarily viewed in isolation from each other.
Flap Copy
Over the course of sixteen years--from 1700 to 1716--Lady Sarah Cowper kept a truly remarkable diary, comprising over 2,300 pages of intimate commentary, not only on her personal life but also on religion, politics, and society in early modern England. Throughout this revealing text, she interweaves her own words with unattributed quotations from other writings--conduct manuals, sermons, periodicals, and other forms of prescriptive literature--in order to valorize her own identity and her claims to authority, both within her family and within a wider public sphere. Not only did Lady Sarah borrow the words of others, this "errant plagiarist" reordered and reshaped texts in ways that often subverted their original meaning. Her diary stands as a remarkably explicit record of how an eighteenth-century woman might read and actively interpret the gender and social ideologies of her era in ways that did not always fit the original intentions of the authors of prescriptive literature. Self-righteous, unhappy in her marriage, socially insecure, and under the stress of the murder trial of her youngest son, Lady Sarah began her diary at the age of fifty-six. Using extensive extracts from the diary, the author recounts Lady Sarah's conflicts with her husband and sons, her uneasy social rounds, her widowhood, and, most notably, her intellectual and spiritual life. The story of Lady Sarah, with the vivid descriptions of her emotional and intellectual outpourings in her diary, allows a close examination of the relationship between the large corpus of prescriptive literature of the period (particularly as it related to women and their roles) and actual practice. Through its exploration of the life and work of an articulate, thoughtful woman, the book also casts light on the interworkings of the period's hierarchies of gender, rank, and age--hierarchies ordinarily viewed in isolation from each other.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2003-04-01:
Sarah Cowper, orphaned daughter of a London merchant, was married for 42 unhappy years to Sir William Cowper, an unsuccessful Whig politician. She kept a diary (1700-14), replete with borrowings from her wide reading. It contained meditations on her life and times, riddled with complaint and self-pity. Kugler (John Carroll Univ.) attempts a feminist reading of the diary, which "records the reworking of ideology and the construction of self-validating female identities in response to and by means of addressing prescriptive texts, within a written format that subverts conventional literary forms and models." Cowper was both literate and opinionated, and her diary contains self-improvement advice and moral exhortation, as well as commentary on politics and religion. Her life of privilege had both triumph and misfortune, but always with an underlying insecurity. While it is difficult to view Sarah Cowper as a victim of contemporary restrictive/prescriptive notions of womanhood, in another time her life might have achieved some distinction. The diary remains, however, a "monument to self-justification" of a restless spirit and troubled soul. ^BSumming Up: Optional. Academic libraries with extensive holdings in early modern British history. D. J. Kovarovic Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Reviews
Review Quotes
"In a year with notable contributions to "women's studies," this book stands out for its haunting portrait of an eloquent woman, with complex desires and concomitant disappointments, living out a life intent on remaining relevant against indifferent social presures."Allen Reddick,Studies in English Literature
This item was reviewed in:
Reference & Research Book News, November 2002
Choice, April 2003
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Back Cover Copy
"In a year with notable contributions to "women's studies," this book stands out for its haunting portrait of an eloquent woman, with complex desires and concomitant disappointments, living out a life intent on remaining relevant against indifferent social presures."Allen Reddick, Studies in English Literature
Back Cover Copy
"In a year with notable contributions to "women's studies," this book stands out for its haunting portrait of an eloquent woman, with complex desires and concomitant disappointments, living out a life intent on remaining relevant against indifferent social presures."--Allen Reddick, Studies in English Literature
Bowker Data Service Summary
From 1700 to 1716, Lady Sarah Cowper kept a remarkable diary comprising intimate and social commentary of life in early modern England. Throughout, she interwove her own words with unattributed quotations from other writings. This is a look at the life and work of an 'errant plagiarist'.
Table of Contents
Introductionp. 1
"The Unhappy Accidents of My Life"p. 21
The Angry Years: Married Life, 1700-1704p. 47
The Angry Years: Social Life, 1700-1704p. 73
The Angry Years: Intellectual Life, 1700-1704p. 103
Riding the Crest? 1705-1706p. 123
Widow's Heyday, 1706-1710p. 141
Disillusionment and Decline, 1710-1716p. 167
Appendixp. 195
Notesp. 209
Bibliographyp. 259
Indexp. 279
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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