Although she was a laboring-class writer who worked in factories all her life, the factory odes of Ellen Johnston, the self-titled “Factory Girl,” have received little consideration as political poems. Yet in “Address to the Factory of Messrs. J. & W. I. Scott & Co.,” Johnston self-consciously manipulates the power dynamics between speaking subject and addressed other through imitation of lyric forms such as panegyric and elegy. Rereading Johnston’s use of rhetorical apostrophe in a poem to, and about, a Scottish textiles factory as politically strategic pushes back against the selection bias in recovery work and canon diversification efforts that predetermines the interpretive frames applied to minoritized writers.

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