Highlighting the remarkable women who found ways around the constraints placed on their intellectual growth, this collection of essays shows how their persistence opened up attributes of potent female imagination, radical endeavour, literary vigour, and self-education that compares well with male intellectual achievement in the long eighteenth century. Disseminating their knowledge through literary and documentary prose with unapologetic self-confidence, women such as Anna Barbauld, Anna Seward, Elizabeth Inchbald and Joanna Baillie usurped subjects perceived as masculine to contribute to scientific, political, philosophical and theological debate and progress. This multifaceted exploration goes beyond traditional readings of women’s creativity to add fresh, at times controversial, insights into the female view of the intellectual world. Bringing together leading experts on British women’s lives, work and writings, the volume seeks to rediscover women’s appropriations of masculine disciplines and to examine their interventions into the intellectual world. Through their engagement with a unique perspective on women’s lives and achievements, the essays make important contributions to the existing body of knowledge in this important area that will inform future scholarship.
Table of Contents
Part 1 An Engagement with Science: 'To bring this useful invention into fashion in England': Mary Wortley Montagu as medical expert. The lure of the volcano in the female literary imagination. Women's 'reason' for a 'rising generation': Mary Wollstonecraft, paediatric science and the child of nature. Part 2 Religious Discourses: Anxiety, authorship, authority: the maternal feminine and the divine in Hannah More's Sacred Dramas. Rethinking surrender: Elizabeth Inchbald and the 'Catholic novel'. Veiled exegesis: dissenting women's aesthetic approach to theological hermeneutics and social action. Part 3 Radical Women, Politics, and Philosophy: 'A longing to enjoy my liberty': the patronage, writings, and picturesque tours of Elizabeth Percy, 1st Duchess of Northumberland. Coming out of the closet and competing with John Anybody: the bold world of Joanna Baillie. 'France is a republic': The Canterbury Tales and Harriet Lee's revolutionary gothic.
Teresa Barnard is an independent scholar.