chapter  5
16 Pages

Serial Identity: History, Gender, and Form in the Diary Writing of Lady Anne Clifford

WithMegan Matchinske

In the immediate present of Lady Anne Clifford's narrative, duration is marked by momentum and location by the directed trajectory that Clifford's diary traces through rooms, castles, parks, towns, and shires. Clifford's sense of identity is imbricated in notions of deep history, in an ancestral connection to family origin. The correlation between Clifford's appropriation of history, the generic shape of her diary writing, and her struggles to reclaim her lands cannot be overstated. In a practical sense the diurnal form accommodates Clifford's obsessive need for serial justification; it feeds into the citational impulse. Clifford's autobiographical form in its peculiar iterative patterning delineates a new kind of personal history, one that is future-oriented, unfinished, and peculiarly suited to female needs. Indeed, female seriality may require a vigilance that does not sit all that easily with early modern women autobiographers.