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A Feminine EnlightenmentBritish Women Writers and the Philosophy of Progress, 1759-1820$
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JoEllen DeLucia

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748695942

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748695942.001.0001

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Queering Progress: Anna Seward and Llangollen Vale

Queering Progress: Anna Seward and Llangollen Vale

Chapter:
(p.87) Chapter 3 Queering Progress: Anna Seward and Llangollen Vale
Source:
A Feminine Enlightenment
Author(s):

JoEllen DeLucia

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748695942.003.0003

Drawing on evidence from the published and unpublished letters of the second-generation Bluestocking and poet Anna Seward, this chapter argues that her immersion in Enlightenment theories of aesthetic progress and her devotion to Ossianic sentiment shaped her Llangollen Vale (1796). In describing this picturesque Welsh valley and celebrating its famous occupants, from the Welsh national hero Owen of Glendower to Seward’s contemporaries and close friends the Ladies of Llangollen, Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler, Seward’s poem critiques established narratives of historical progress and tests the possibility that the refined feelings and sentiments produced by female friendship might flourish outside modern commercial society and the heterosexual family. Building on the work of theorists of queer history, this chapter develops the claim that Seward creates a “new time” for the ladies of Llangollen that aligns their experience of queer exile from their families and nation with accounts of Welsh resistance to English hegemony.

Keywords:   Anna Seward, Eleanor Butler, Llangollen Vale, Sarah Ponsonby, queer history, Wales

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