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© 2017

The Female Philosopher and Her Afterlives

Mary Wollstonecraft, the British Novel, and the Transformations of Feminism, 1796-1811

Benefits

  • Offers readers a new way to understand feminist literary history at a time when ideas of female character and opinions about the appropriate role for female intellectuality were rapidly changing

  • Examines Wollstonecraft’s influence on some of her contemporaries—Mary Hays, Amelia Opie, Maria Edgeworth, and Jane Austen

  • Argues that Wollstonecraft’s generation responded in a variety of ways to her work as a whole and to her legacy, and that they used the resources of the novel to construct a more politically moderate and pragmatic form of feminism

Book

About this book

Introduction

This book argues that the female philosopher, a literary figure brought into existence by Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, embodied the transformations of feminist thought during the transition from the Enlightenment to the Romantic period.  By imagining a series of alternate lives and afterlives for the female philosopher, women authors of the early Romantic period used the resources of the novel to evaluate Wollstonecraft’s ideas and legacy. This book examines how these writers’ opinions converged on such issues as progress, education, and ungendered virtues, and how they diverged on a fundamental question connected to Wollstonecraft’s life and feminist thought:  whether the enlightened, intellectual woman should live according to her own principles, or sacrifice moral autonomy in the interest of pragmatic accommodation to societal expectations.

Keywords

Jane Austen Maria Edgeworth Fiction Mary Hays Women's rights

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

About the authors

Deborah Weiss is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Alabama, USA. She is a specialist in the long eighteenth century with research interests in the interconnections among gender, economics, education, and Enlightenment.  Her articles have appeared in Eighteenth-Century FictionStudies in RomanticismThe Journal of Eighteenth-Century Studies, and Studies in the Novel

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Female Philosopher and Her Afterlives
  • Book Subtitle Mary Wollstonecraft, the British Novel, and the Transformations of Feminism, 1796-1811
  • Authors Deborah Weiss
  • Series Title Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and the Cultures of Print
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and the Cultures of Print
  • DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-55363-4
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Literature, Cultural and Media Studies Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-55362-7
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-85639-1
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-55363-4
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages IX, 291
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Nineteenth-Century Literature
    Eighteenth-Century Literature
    Feminism
  • Buy this book on publisher's site

Reviews

“The Female Philosopher and Her Afterlives is … not only an intriguing piece of literary analysis, it also represents a modest but noteworthy intervention in literary history.” (Laura Kirkley, European Romantic Review, Vol. 30 (4), 2019)