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Defying traditional boundaries of domesticity and privacy, and broadening discussion of women's writing in relation to feminist work done in other fields, this study addresses American women's poetry from the seventeenth to late-twentieth century. Engaging the fields of literary criticism, anthropology, psychology, history, political theory, religious culture, cultural studies, and poetics, the book moves beyond current scholarship to pursue an interpretation of feminism's defining interests and assumptions in the context of woman's writing. Wolosky visits an ongoing sense of the formation of the self as constituted through relationships, not only on the personal level, but as forming community commitments. This question of selfhood in its relation to community opens analysis of women's voices in poetry, as well as characteristic self-representation, topoi, images, and other aspects making up the poetic text, contesting traditional assignments of women to the private sphere. Wolosky argues for the aesthetic power of literature, which derives not in a self-enclosed, self-reflective art, but in just such encounters across domains, thus bringing different arenas of human experience to bear on each other in mutual interrogation and reflection. Women poets have addressed, directly or through a variety of poetic structures and figures, the public world, and in doing so, to have defined and expressed specific forms of selfhood engaged in and committed to communal life.