The study of food in literature complicates established critical positions. Both a libidinal pleasure and the ultimate commodity, food in fiction can represent sex as well as money, and brings the body and the marketplace together in ways that are sometimes obvious and sometimes unsettling. This book explores these relations in the context of late eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century women's fiction, where concerns about bodily, economic and intellectual productivity and consumption power decades of novels, conduct books and popular medicine. The introduction suggests ways in which attention to food in these texts might complicate recent developments in literary theory and criticism, while the body of the book is devoted to close readings of novels and children's stories by Frances Burney, Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria Edgeworth and Susan Ferrier. Burney and Wollstonecraft explore the ways in which eating and not eating (mis)represent women's sexuality, and consider how women's intellectual and economic productivity might disrupt easy equations between appetites at the table and in bed. Edgeworth and Ferrier, Anglo-Irish and Scottish writers respectively, are more interested in cooking and eating as ways of enacting and manipulating national identity and class.
This book challenges influential accounts about gender and the novel by revealing the complex ways in which labour informed the lives and writing of a number of middling and genteel women authors publishing between 1750 and 1830. It provides a seam of texts for exploring the vexed relationship between gender, work and writing. The four chapters that follow contain contextualised case studies of the treatment of manual, intellectual and domestic labour in the work and careers of Sarah Scott, Charlotte Smith, Mary Wollstonecraft and women applicants to the writers' charity, the Literary Fund. By making women's work visible in our studies of female-authored fiction of the period, the book reveals the crucial role that these women played in articulating debates about the gendered division of labour, the (in)compatibility of women's domestic and professional lives, and the status and true value of women's work, which shaped eighteenth-century culture as surely as they do our own.
Chatterjee argues that Fenwick in Secresy (1795) uses images of lesbian desire in order to challenge the then prevailing models of gender. Fenwick‘s associations with such Jacobins as William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Mary Hays underline her radical credentials, and Chatterjee argues that Secresy develops feminist ideas drawn from Wollstonecraft. However she also argues that the novels focus on same-sex desire challenges the whole notion of gender ascriptions in the period and so ultimately moves the debate beyond Wollstonecraft.
Hoeveler argues that Wollstonecraft in The Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) was working within a male dominated tradition of Enlightenment values, and that consequently her views are coloured by an implicit adherence to this tradition. Hoeveler suggests that this adherence is confirmed by Wollstonecraft‘s Mary, A Fiction (1788) which provides a sentimental celebration of the passive and weak Female Gothic heroine. Hoeveler argues that such a celebration of passivity has had a deleterious effect on feminism by encouraging women to see themselves as victims as a means, paradoxically, of gaining empowerment.
The stereotype of the forward, sexually precocious female botanist made its first appearance in literature in the turbulent revolutionary climate of the 1790s. The emergence of this figure illustrates both the contemporary appeal, particularly to women, of the Linnaean Sexual System of botanical classification, and the anxieties surrounding female modesty that it provoked. This book explores the cultivation of the female mind and the feminised discourse of botanical literature in eighteenth-century Britain. In particular, it discusses British women's engagement with the Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus, and his unsettling discovery of plant sexuality. The book also explores nationality and sexuality debates in relation to botany and charts the appearance of a new literary stereotype, the sexually precocious female botanist. It investigates the cultivation of the female mind and its implications for the theories of the feminised discourse of botanical literature. The book also investigates a process of feminisation of botany in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's and Priscilla Wakefield's letters on botany; these were literary and educational texts addressed specifically to women. Linnaean classification exemplified order, making botany an ideal discipline for young British women in the eighteenth century. Erasmus Darwin's explicit discussion of sexuality related to the aura of illicit sexuality that had surrounded Sir Joseph Banks. Richard Polwhele appropriates Collinsonia's image of the promiscuous female to allude to Mary Wollstonecraft's sexuality, drawing on forward plants in Darwin and Thomas Mathias. The book finally looks at early nineteenth-century debates and demonstrates how scientific botany came into conflict with the craft of floristry.
This book explores how the publication of women’s life writing influenced the reputation of its writers and of the genre itself during the long nineteenth century. It provides case studies of Frances Burney, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Robinson and Mary Hays, four writers whose names were caught up in the debates surrounding the moral and literary respectability of publishing the ‘private’ through diaries, letters, memoirs and auto/biography. Focusing on gender, genre and authorial reputation, the book examines key works, such as Frances Burney’s Diary and Letters of Madame D’Arblay (1842–46), Mary Wollstonecraft’s Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (1796), William Godwin’s Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1798), Mary Robinson’s Memoirs (1801), and Mary Hays’s Female Biography (1803), as well as responses to these texts in a range of non-canonical material such as essays, reviews, novels, poetry, multibiographies, illustrated fiction and later biographies. It also considers print runs, circulation figures, pricing and reprinting patterns. Using both qualitative and quantitative data, the book argues for the importance of life writing – a crucial site of affective identification – in shaping authorial reputation and afterlife. It also reveals the innovative contributions of these women to the genre of life writing. The book ultimately helps to construct a fuller, more varied picture of the literary field in the long nineteenth century and the role of both women writers and their life writing within it.
Feeding daughters in the works of Mary Wollstonecraft
But you have no petticoats to dangle in the snow. Poor Women how they are beset with plagues – within – and without.
— MaryWollstonecraft, housebound and newly pregnant, to William Godwin, January 12 th , 1797
They [many pregnant women] think they ought to eat more, instead of less, in their new state; and torture their invention to find out something to conquer the squeamishness of their appetite. This is a very fruitful source of whims and fancies, the
‘A man in love’: Revealing the unseen
a ry Wol l s ton e c ra f t ro s e to prominence with
her Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790) and Vindication
of the Rights of Woman (1792), but she won over readers’ hearts in
her confessional travelogue Letters Written During a Short Residence
in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (1797). Despite her unorthodox
personal life, Wollstonecraft’s careful self-fashioning ensured that
she died in 1797 as a respected writer and the most widely known
political thinker of her day. Only a few months
Damian Walford Davies
‘Obstetrics’: from the Latin for ‘midwife’ – literally, ‘one who stands
before/opposite/in the way of’ the woman in childbirth. As both heirs to
and active deliverers of Romanticism’s inheritances, we are ourselves in
an uncanny parturitive position. Assisting at the iterative, often difficult
(re)births of literary texts, we participate in acts of critical midwifery.
What follows is a provocation – a performance of a critical heuristic
the courts expected them to keep their words and enforced demands for
support from women and children. As a result, men paid a legal price for
cohabitation, though the social and economic costs were greater for women.
Though most of the chapters centre on socio-legal history, I also
demonstrate the difference between the cultural and social significance of
figures such as MaryWollstonecraft and George Eliot. These public ‘fallen’
women acted as touchstones for conservatives and reformers alike, but their
family experiences were much like other cohabitees. This