English Language and Literature ETDs

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My dissertation is a scholarly edition of the poems, reviews, and letters of Elizabeth Moody (1737-1814), an English writer whose work has been out of print for nearly two centuries and has never been collected. Comprised of 109 poems, 29 reviews, and six letters, the edition contains substantial new biographical information and many heretofore undiscovered texts.

The product of a privileged, upper-middle-class milieu and a locale famed for wit and art, Moody from an early age conceived of herself as a reader, writer, and critic. In the edition's biographical/critical introduction I examine how her identity and writing were shaped by her background, temperament, and a cultural climate that sanctioned women writers only to the extent that they exhibited ideal femininity. I maintain that Moody-whose satiric impulse and related critical bent were decidedly unfeminine negotiated the contradictions inherent in her roles as woman/housewife/critic/poet by constructing herself as a writer of playful "trifles" and finding familial spaces for her literary offspring: in short, by existing as a " semi-public" writer.

This edition is aimed at an audience ranging from informed undergraduates to experienced scholars. My editorial goals are to help resurrect an engaging, neglected writer who participated in all the literary/cultural dialogues of her day. and to produce a useful resource for students and scholars. Although the edition is traditional in arrangement, I have attempted, through a network of annotations. cross-references, and textual notes, and through inclusion of poems by members of Moody's writing circle in dialogue with hers, to convey the highly sociable nature of her oeuvre. During Moody's lifetime the Augustan model of writing as a social practice was being superceded by a Romantic model of writing as an act of solitary genius. Elizabeth Moody reminds us that, to understand what it means to be readers and writers on the verge of a new century, we must allow all manner of speakers and models to converse.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Carolyn Woodward

Second Committee Member

Ruth Salvaggio

Third Committee Member

Gail Turley Houston

Fourth Committee Member

James L. Thorson



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