Mothers of the Nation
152 pages
English

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152 pages
English

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Description

A Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 2000


British women writers were enormously influential in the creation of public opinion and political ideology during the years from 1780 to 1830. Anne Mellor demonstrates the many ways in which they attempted to shape British public policy and cultural behavior in the areas of religious and governmental reform, education, philanthropy, and patterns of consumption. She argues that the theoretical paradigm of the "doctrine of the separate spheres"may no longer be valid. According to this view, British society was divided into distinctly differentiated and gendered spheres of public versus private activities in the 18th and 19th centuries,

Surveying all the genres of literature—drama, poetry, fiction, non-fiction prose, and literary criticism—Mellor shows how women writers promoted a new concept of the ideal woman as rationally educated, sexually self-disciplined, and above all, virtuous. This New Woman, these writers said, was better suited to govern the nation than were its current fiscally irresponsible, lecherous, and corruptible male rulers.

Beginning with Hannah More, Mellor argues that women writers too often dismissed as conservative or retrogressive instead promoted a revolution in cultural mores or manners. She discusses writers as diverse as Elizabeth Inchbald, Hannah Cowley, and Joanna Baillie; as Charlotte Smith, Anna Barbauld, and Lucy Aikin; as Mary Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Reeve, and Anna Seward; and concludes with extended analyses of Charlotte Smith's Desmond and Jane Austen's Persuasion. She thus documents women writers' full participation in that very discursive public sphere which Habermas so famously restricted to men of property. Moreover, the new career of philanthropy defined by Hannah More provided a practical means by which women of all classes could actively construct a new British civil society, and thus become the mothers not only of individual households but of the nation as a whole.


Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Women and the Public Sphere in England, 1780-1830
1. Hannah More, Revolutionary Reformer
2. Theatre as the School of Virtue
3. Women's Political Poetry
4. Literary Criticism, Cultural Authority, and The Rise of the Novel
5. The Politics of Fiction
Desmond
Persuasion
Postscript: The Politics of Modernity

Notes
Works Cited
Index

Sujets

Informations

Publié par
Date de parution 22 mai 2000
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253028198
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Exrait

Mothers of the Nation
Women of Letters Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar General Editors
Mothers the of Nation
Women’s Political Writing in England, 1780–1830
Anne K. Mellor
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press 601 North Morton Street Bloomington, IN 47404–3797 USA
http://iupress.indiana.edu
Telephone orders 800–842–6796 Fax orders 812–855–7931 Orders by e-mail iuporder@indiana.edu
First paperback edition 2002 © 2000 by Anne Mellor All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses’ Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exceptionto this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48–1984.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Mellor, Anne Kostelanetz.
 Mothers of the nation: women’s political writing in England, 1780–1830 /
Anne K. Mellor.
  p. cm. — (Women of letters)
 Includes bibliographical references (p.) and index.
 ISBN 0–253–33713–5 (alk. paper) — ISBN 0–253–21369-X (pbk.: alk. paper)
  1. English literature-19th century—History and criticism. 2. Politics and literature—Great Britain—History-19th century. 3. Politics and literature—Great Britain—History-18th century. 4. English literature—Women authors—History and criticism. 5. English literature-18th century—History and criticism. 6. Women and literature—England-History-19th century. 7. Women and literature—England—History-18th century. 8. Great Britain—Politics and government-1760–1820. 9. Great Britain—Politics and government-1820–1830. 10. Women authors, English—Political and social views. I. Title. II. Women of letters (Bloomington, Ind.)
PR468.P57 .M45 2000
820.9’358-dc21
99-047328
2   3   4   5   6   07   06   05   04   03   02
For Ron “separate rights are lost in mutual love”
Contents
Acknowledgments
 
Introduction: Women and the Public Sphere in England, 1780–1830
1. Hannah More Revolutionary Reformer
2. Theater as the School of Virtue
3. Women’s Political Poetry
4. Literary Criticism, Cultural Authority, and the Rise of the Novel
5. The Politics of Fiction
   Desmond
   Persuasion
Postscript: The Politics of Modernity
 
Notes
Works Cited
Index
Illustrations
1. The Female Moderator
2. The Delicious Game of the Fruit-Basket, or Moral and Intellectual Dessert
3. Hannah More
4. British copper “cartwheel” penny
5. British bronze penny
6. The Contrast/1792/ Which Is Best
Acknowledgments
I gratefully acknowledge the generous permission received from the followingjournal and press to publish here in revised form material that originallyappeared under their imprints: The Johns Hopkins University Press,for “A Criticism of Their Own: Romantic Women Literary Critics,” in Questioning Romanticism, ed. John Beer, Johns Hopkins University Press,1995, 29–48; and The Trustees of Boston University, for “The FemalePoet and the Poetess: Two Traditions of British Women’s Poetry, 1780–1830,” Studies in Romanticism 36 (Summer 1997): 261–76, and for “JoannaBaillie and the Counter-Public Sphere,” Studies in Romanticism 33(Winter 1994): 559–68.
I wish also to thank the many colleagues and students who have helpedin profound ways to shape this book: the readers for Indiana UniversityPress, the UCLA Romantic Study Group, the members of my NationalEndowment for the Humanities Summer Seminars for College Teachers,my graduate students at UCLA, and in particular those whose trenchantcomments on earlier versions of these chapters sharpened my thinking—Isobel Armstrong, Stephen Behrendt, Ann Bermingham, Joseph Bristow,Julie Carlson, Ellen DuBois, Paula Feldman, Sandra Gilbert, Susan Gubar,Anne Janowitz, Greg Kucich, Peter Manning, Felicity Nussbaum, CarolePateman, Leilani Riehle, Johanna Schwartz, Paul Sheats, Clifford Siskin,Susan Wolfson, and above all, Kevin Gilmartin, whose ongoing dialoguewith me on Hannah More has greatly influenced this work.
The Clark Library and the Center for Seventeenth and Eighteenth CenturyStudies at UCLA have generously provided research assistance for thisbook.
I dedicate this book, on our thirtieth wedding anniversary (7 June 1999),to the person who has endured much, given more, and never let me down,my deeply loved husband, Ron Mellor.
Mothers of the Nation
Introduction
Women and the Public Sphere in England, 1780–1830
Social historians and literary critics who have analyzed British culture in thelate eighteenth and early nineteenth century have tended to assume theexistence of a “doctrine of the separate spheres” based primarily on gender,which powerfully shaped the lives of both men and women. Men inhabitedthe public realm of government and commerce; women were confined to aprivate, domestic realm of the family, the emotions, and spirituality. JürgenHabermas’s influential The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1962, trans. 1989) both critiqued and at the same time powerfully reinforcedthis conceptual paradigm.
On the one hand, Habermas insisted that the public sphere must betheoretically distinguished from the machinations of the political state. Hedefined the “public sphere” as the arena of what he called bourgeois “civilsociety,” a public space where the common good is debated and promoted,and where a public opinion based not on status or traditions but on the freeand rational exchange of ideas can be developed. Habermas further arguedthat this public sphere emerged for the first time in Britain and France in the eighteenth century as an emancipatory reasoned discourse enabled bythe growth of print culture (newspapers, periodicals, books), postal services,coffee houses, and salons. As Nancy Fraser precisely summarizes theHabermasian concept of the public sphere,
it designates a theater in modern societies in which political participation isenacted through the medium of talk. It is the space in which citizens deliberateabout their common affairs, and hence an institutionalized arena of discursiveinteraction. This arena is conceptually distinct from the state; it is a site for theproduction and circulation of discourses that can in principle be critical of thestate. (Fraser 70)
Habermas further insisted that the public sphere must be conceptually distinguishednot only from the state but also from the economy—it is anarena of debating and deliberating rather than of buying and selling, ofdiscursive rather than of market relations. But as Keith Baker has rightlyemphasized, this literary or discursive public sphere had its own economicfoundations:
Its existence depended upon the commercialization of culture in a capitalistsociety. Private persons could be constituted as a reading public, Habermasmaintains, only through the postal services, periodicals, and other communicationssytems that had grown in regularity with a market society; their individualaccess to the printed word could be sustained only insofar as it fed the commercialexpansion of the printing and publishing trades; their personal taste forculture could be satisfied only in the coffee houses, salons, reading societies,theaters, museums, and concert halls opened to them in the urban centers of abourgeois society; their collective judgment could be informed only by the newclass of writers and critics whose livelihood now depended upon the productionof culture as a commodity. (Baker 184–85)
On the other hand, as such feminist scholars as Joan Landes, NancyFraser, and Leonore Davidoff, among many others, have pointed out, Habermaslimited participation in this eighteenth-century bourgeois civil societyor public sphere—in this discursive community whose rational debate—to According Habermas,generated public opinion—to men of property. According towomen and unpropertied workers (or servants) could gain entrance to thepublic sphere only as readers (Habermas 56). As Leonore Davidoff rightlyconcluded, “Habermas’ ‘privatised individual’ in these constructions is consistently,if unconsciously, masculine” (Davidoff 1995: 239).
In this book I argue first that Habermas’s conceptual limitation of thepublic sphere in England between 1780 and 1830 to men of property ishistorically incorrect. During the Romantic era women participated fully inthe public sphere as Habermas defined it. They openly and frequently publishedtheir free and reasoned opinions on an enormous range of topics,from the French Revolution and the abolitionist campaigns against the slave trade through doctrinal religious issues and methods of education to theeconomic management both of the individual household and of the state.Their views were openly circulated not only through the economic institutionsof print culture (newspapers and journal

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