Domestic Politics: Gender, Protest, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Poems Before Congress

Katherine Montwieler, University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Vol. 24, No. 2 (Fall 2005), 291-317.

This essay makes a case for the generally least liked and least read of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s volumes, Poems Before Congress (1860). Thanks to its unorthodox pro-women, seemingly non-feminist politics, this volume has never found a happy audience. However, this essay argues that Barrett Browning addresses women’s right to political opinions and to utterances of those opinions and to a range of emotions as well, whether soft and sad or triumphant and angry. It is high time, the essay concludes, that we read this volume in its entirety, for the lesson of the narrative that the poems collectively create.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]