‘A Peculiar Education’: Epistolary Networks, Knowledge and Critical Thinking
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This chapter examines the mid-Victorian feminist claim for better education for women as articulated by Bodichon at the intersection of her publications and letters. I first discuss Bodichon’s most relevant works on this demand. This chapter moves on to explore the epistolary unfolding of Bodichon’s stance on the question of religious education and women’s access to schooling. Hence, in line with Bildung’s notion of dialogical learning, I explore the pivotal axis epistolary networks among Bodichon and her female friends played in providing her with a forum for learning and self-discovery where she acquired knowledge and exercised her critical thinking. I suggest that Bodichon shaped her own outlook in the process of epistolary learning stimulated by the activities she undertook within the framework of her later informal education: school visiting, traveling and reading. I argue that, in the process, she began developing her feminist understanding of women needing better education opportunities as a springboard to achieving equality.