"The Cultural Identity of Seventeenth Century Woman" brings together extracts from a wide variety of sources to illustrate the ways in which the cultural notion of "woman" was constructed. Although the dominant ideology was unquestionably patriarchal, and many of its manifestations were misogynistic and determined to keep women in their place, it was also diverse, self-questioning, contradictory and committed to loving rather than authoritarian relations between the sexes.
Over two hundred extracts from books, pamphlets, diaries and letters are arranged under the main headings: female nature, character and behavior, female roles and affairs, and feminisms. Each chapter is introduced by Keeble, who contextualizes the extracts, drawing out the main issues raised.
This fascinating collection of opinions from both men and women enables informed discussion of the key issues of gender and identity in the seventeenth century.