Paola Rudan

«As Difficult to be Known as the Universe». Margaret Cavendish and the sexual art of rhetoric

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Margaret Cavendish; Female Orations; Rhetoric; Sexual Difference.

The essay introduces the Italian translation of Margaret Cavendish's "Female Orations" (1662). In the first part, Cavendish's biography is briefly exposed in order to contextualize her literary and philosophical production and to stress her use of her husband's authorization to gain an authorial position. The second part reads the "Female Orations" within the frame of the post-Civil War political and theoretical scenery and of the querelle des femmes conceived as a rhetorical exercise, thus stressing the sexual character of rhetoric as a political weapon. In the last part, the different positions concerning women's freedom exposed by Cavendish in the "Female Orations" are analyzed as an indicator of the contested meaning of «nature» and of the political definition of sexual difference.

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