Upcoming Series: Illness and Connection in Bradstreet's Poetry

Hello Dear Readers!

It’s winter in Massachusetts--but worry not! The Bradstreet Fellows have a new series of blog posts to help you through the short days and cold nights.

First, Dakota Durbin illuminates Anne Bradstreet’s “The Flesh and The Spirit,” a poem that stages a debate between two sisters--one representing a flawed earthly body and the other a transcendent spirit. In this poem, Bradstreet revives a strategy she uses in “The Four Seasons” and “Of The Four Humours,” which also stage philosophical debates among sisters. Dakota teases out the promises and pitfalls of such a formulation.

Dakota’s analysis sets the stage for a three part series on Bradstreet’s relationship to illness (just in time for cold and flu season!). Bobby Tolan, Daniel Proulx, and Emma Leaden each evaluate a poem that grapples with Anne Bradstreet’s earthly body as she endures bouts of illness. As this series suggests, Bradstreet was often sick--she contracted smallpox while still in England; shortly after her arrival in Massachusetts, she suffered a severe fever. As Bobby, Daniel, and Emma illustrate, Bradstreet understood illness as a lesson from God, and saw a correlation between sickness and her spiritual wrongs. In this way, Bradstreet’s illnesses were opportunities to correct her perceived wrongs and to celebrate God’s oversight of her life.

Our next three posts take us out of the sickbed and into a world of unexpected connections. First, Isabella Connor reads one of Bradstreet’s most popular poems, “From the Author to My Husband.” In this Valentine’s Day post, Isabella sheds light on Anne's relationship with Simon, and showcases the ways in which Puritan romances compare and contrast to our relationship ideals today. Second, Taylor Galusha revives the sounds of the holiday season by tracing the ancestry of a very famous Christmastime songster to Bradstreet’s seventeenth-century neighborhood. As it turns out, this mystery singer comes from a long line of musicians who have been serenading audiences in and around our corner of Massachusetts for centuries. Finally, Rochelle Brothers reflects on her multi-sensory experience of the archive. For Rochelle, the smells, sounds, and textures of the archival documents we’ve encountered facilitate a meaningful connection to Anne Bradstreet over time.

In addition to these posts, we have three forthcoming projects we will release this March in celebration of Women’s History Month. Though we’re keeping the details of these projects under wraps for now--we can guarantee that they will bring you a little bit closer to the life and works of Andover’s first poet. Stay tuned for more information!