Author Biography

Vanessa L. Rapatz is Associate Professor of English at Ball State University, where she specializes in early modern British literature. Her book Convents and Novices in Early Modern English Dramatic Works was published by Medieval Institute Publications in 2020. She has also published an essay on The Jew of Malta in SEL and a chapter on Measure for Measure appears in Religion and the Early Modern British Marketplace (Routledge 2022).


Margaret Cavendish has only recently been included in the canonical literature anthologies and even then, the samplings of her prolific writings are severely truncated. However, even this small taste of Cavendish’s poems and excerpts of A Description of a New World called The Blazing World leave early British literature survey students hungry for more. Frequently, students in the survey choose to focus on Cavendish’s writing for their research projects in which they practice feminist and queer readings and engage with Cavendish as a key player in utopian and science fiction genres. Beyond the survey course, Blazing World works wonderfully in courses focused on Renaissance Utopias as well as transhistorical utopian and dystopian fiction and serves as the perfect frame text for literature and gender courses that focus on female world making. In the gender and literature course, Blazing World pairs excellently with more contemporary and intersectional feminist world makers including Octavia Butler, Toni Morrison, and Alison Bechdel.


Romance, Utopia, Gender, Science Fiction, Teaching