Prefacing Texts, Authorizing Authors, and Constructing Selves: The Preface As Autobiographical Space

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Scopus citations


The preface is a unique textual space, one that demands very particular kind of rhetoric because of its generic constraints and yet allows ample room for an author's manipulation and creativity. Perhaps the best articulation of the prefaces paradoxical nature appears in Barbara Johnson's playful response to Jacques Derrida's Dissemination. The autobiographical details summarized here paradoxically depict Speght as the heroic defender of all people and, simultaneously, a woman who clearly knows her place. In her work on French Renaissance women writers, Anne R. Larsen reveals the value of this kind of study: Early women writers exploited the prefaces marginality and epistolarity. Early modern women writers were similarly able to capitalize on the prefaces traditional epistolarity, for prefatory texts are always addressed to a reader whether known or unknown, general or specific, singular or plural and sometimes actually take the form of an epistolary dedication. The advent of the female writer in English literary history is complicated, based on numerous interconnected factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGenre and Women's Life Writing in Early Modern England
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781317129370
ISBN (Print)9780754654261
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2007 Michelle M. Dowd and Julie A. Eckerle.


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