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“I walked out”: Perambulatory poetics in Isabella Whitney’s A sweet Nosgay

A public lecture hosted by The University of Western Australia. 


Image: Detail from Hans Eworth, Mary Neville, Lady Dacre, circa 1555–1558. Wikimedia Commons

Date: Tuesday 5 July 2022
Time: 6:00pm AWST
Venue: TBC, The University of Western Australia
Enquiries and register: emotions@uwa.edu.au

Stepping into the 16th century literary marketplace as a single, unemployed maidservant, Isabella Whitney was an unusual woman. In recent decades she has generated significant scholarly interest as the first English woman to publish secular poetry in print for income. This lecture will consider how the poetic subjectivity she develops in her second volume of lyric verse, A sweet Nosgay (1573), is intimately connected to mobility. Whitney’s ambulatory poetics provide fascinating insight into early modern plague experiences and the streetscape of 16th century London. However, more than this, I suggest that she uses walking to develop sophisticated poetic commentary on early modern artistic production, mental and physical wellbeing and pervasive cultural anxiety about the pitfalls and affordances of self-sufficiency. 


Anna-Rose Shack is an NWO-funded PhD candidate at the Amsterdam School of Historical Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Her PhD looks at how poetry articulates subjectivity in construction, and is concerned with how 16th and 17th century female poets represent and articulate vulnerable selfhood in lyric poetry.

This public lecture is sponsored by the ARC Centre for Excellence for the History of Emotions and the Perth and Medieval Renaissance Group, Inc.