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Gendered Language and the Science of Colonial Silk

Gendered Language and the Science of Colonial Silk Allison MArgAret Bigelow University of Virginia In May 1652, Virginia Ferrar conducted an experiment in her family garden at Little Gidding, Huntingdonshire, to determine the optimal growing conditions for silkworms. Her father carefully chronicled her methods and results in a letter that he sent to Samuel Hartlib, a Polish émigré and educational reformer who published the letter as the Rare and New Discovery of a Speedy Way, . . . Found Out by a Young Lady in England, . . . for the feeding of Silk-worms . . . on the Mulberry-Tree Leaves in Virginia. The religioscientific paradox of a cultivated commodity whose lowly origins could assume such heights of value--these were emblematic insects whose foul excretions were spun into sensuous silks--appealed to midseventeenth-century reformers who sought to refashion the nature of English empire at the height of Oliver Cromwell's western design. For these writers, some of whom supported the Stuart monarchy, some of whom were aligned with the Protectorate, and most of whom were members of Hartlib's loosely organized network of correspondents, silk represented the type of material good and spiritual symbol that both sides thought suitable in the reformation of English colonialism. As they envisioned a http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Early American Literature University of North Carolina Press

Gendered Language and the Science of Colonial Silk

Early American Literature , Volume 49 (2) – Jun 27, 2014

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The University of North Carolina Press.
ISSN
1534-147X
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Abstract

Allison MArgAret Bigelow University of Virginia In May 1652, Virginia Ferrar conducted an experiment in her family garden at Little Gidding, Huntingdonshire, to determine the optimal growing conditions for silkworms. Her father carefully chronicled her methods and results in a letter that he sent to Samuel Hartlib, a Polish émigré and educational reformer who published the letter as the Rare and New Discovery of a Speedy Way, . . . Found Out by a Young Lady in England, . . . for the feeding of Silk-worms . . . on the Mulberry-Tree Leaves in Virginia. The religioscientific paradox of a cultivated commodity whose lowly origins could assume such heights of value--these were emblematic insects whose foul excretions were spun into sensuous silks--appealed to midseventeenth-century reformers who sought to refashion the nature of English empire at the height of Oliver Cromwell's western design. For these writers, some of whom supported the Stuart monarchy, some of whom were aligned with the Protectorate, and most of whom were members of Hartlib's loosely organized network of correspondents, silk represented the type of material good and spiritual symbol that both sides thought suitable in the reformation of English colonialism. As they envisioned a

Journal

Early American LiteratureUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jun 27, 2014

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