The Self-fashioning of an Early Modern Englishwoman: Mary Carleton's Lives
Ashgate, 2004 - 338 Seiten
From her indictment for bigamy in 1663, to her death by hanging at Tyburn a decade later, Mary Carleton captured the imagination of the English people. Mary Jo Kietzman's study of what she terms the self-serialization of this actress, author, and criminal/heroine seeks to understand Carleton's popularity and her significance to a public that was obviously fascinated by her.Making use of previously unexplored historical data-for example, Carleton's petitions for pardon and other letters to State officials; trial reports; State papers; and legal records-Kietzman contextualizes Carleton's autobiography in relation to her courtroom performance. She highlights how Carleton used her highly developed literacy, a unique skill given her plebian background, to make rational and frequently successful public claims for her right to choose her roles and to be judged by her ability to enact them with grace and aplomb. In excavating Carleton's story, Kietzman also shows how the visual nature of Restoration culture-its infatuation with masking, costume and fashion-and the narrative style of testimony in courts before evidentiary standards became codified, encouraged individuals to create and deploy marketable personages to advance their own interests, legitimate or otherwise.Analyzing Mary Carleton's autobiography as well as the many biographical treatments of this notorious figure, Kietzman examines the ways in which Carleton's publication of her ostensibly criminal self-serializations prefigure strategies that fully professional women writers such as Aphra Behn would later employ. Her archival research of Carleton's life contributes important and unusual historical data that deepen our knowledge about early modern women's lives and clarify our understanding of the ways and the extent to which both men and women of the lower classes were able to fabricate identities for themselves.
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