Katie Kadue’s dissertation, “‘The living labours of publick men’: Poetic Production as Domestic Practice from Rabelais to Milton,” explores how early modern French and English male authors conceived of their work as a form of domestic and reproductive labor, better understood as iterative rather than innovative. For these authors, reading and writing worked like housewifery: their textual practices aimed to preserve and maintain fragile bodies, unstable households, and precariously organized communities. Although declaredly concerned with grand narratives, these writers devoted significant textual space to household activities such as jam-making, pickling, gardening, and mold-management, their language often echoing that of the time’s domestic advice literature. This affinity for a domestic sphere that was, beginning in the sixteenth century, increasingly private and feminized challenges the common scholarly view of early modern authorship as a publicity-seeking, self-stylized heroic enterprise, a view that overlooks authors’ preoccupations with drudgery, domesticity, and preservation.
Katie Kadue is the 2015-16 Una's Fellow.