Richard De Ritter
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‘Like a sheet of white paper’
Books, bodies and the sensuous materials of the mind
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This chapter investigates the legacy of John Locke's ideas about education, reading, and identity formation. Focusing on conduct and educational literature, as well as material from the Lady's Magazine, it identifies the way in which representations of reading construct a version of female identity founded on metaphors of exchange. It subsequently describes how writers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Hays and Hannah More view reading as offering a strategic resistance to such commercial forms of identity, before turning to Charles Frognall Dibdin's paean to the printed word, Bibliomania (1809). There, expectations about reading and gender are inverted, as Dibdin goes about depicting an idealised, prudent female reader.

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