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Women and Publishing in Early America - Essay Example

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The author of this essay "Women and Publishing in Early America" casts light on the social role of women in Early America. As the text has it, in early America, it was common for women to be relegated to the home, confined to the sole occupation of keeping house and raising children.  …
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Women and Publishing in Early America
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"Women and Publishing in Early America"

Download file to see previous pages It is therefore pleasantly surprised to discover that as far back as 1476, women have made lifelong occupations in journalism and printing, and in various capacities including that of the owner. Mayo (2009) names at least 21 women who ran their husbands’ or fathers’ printing businesses after they died. Among them was Clementina Rind, who took over as publisher of the Virginia Gazette after she was widowed.
Women of different races and classes contributed to the printing trade. For instance, Phillis Wheatley was a black poet and slave who wrote Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral in the year 1773 (Duboi & Dumenil, 2005, in Mayo, 2009). Born in Africa (most likely Senegal), she was kidnapped at the age of eight years and brought to Boston. The white family which brought her gave her their family name as was the custom then, and she was taught English and Christianity, and later on ancient history, mythology and classical literature. She was intelligent, and her masters were a family of culture, so she was allowed to study and write. Her first poem was published in 1767 in the Newport Mercury. A collection of her poems was published in 1773 in London, and what was unusual was the “attestation” by seventeen men in the volume’s preface that, indeed, the poems were written “by Phillis, a young Negro Girl…a Barbarian from Africa…a Slave in a Family” who was “examined by the best Judges, and is thought qualified to write them” (Lewis, 2007). Phillis Wheatley is acknowledged to be the first black woman poet in American history.
The “attestation” is a clear bias against women, people of color, and of the lower classes (i.e., slaves). The need for such attestation by sixteen men, and the requisite to be examined by “the best Judges” provides a picture of how women who were in the literary and printing trades were regarded; the obvious presumption about women in their day-to-day life is that they are normally not capable of producing literary and journalistic pieces, and such works by women should be properly certified by white men. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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