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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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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 25 October 2021

Introduction: A Feminine Enlightenment?

Introduction: A Feminine Enlightenment?

(p.1) Introduction: A Feminine Enlightenment?
A Feminine Enlightenment

JoEllen DeLucia

Edinburgh University Press

Recent scholarship on the role emotion and sympathy played in the Enlightenment’s mapping of historical progress invites a reconsideration of the women writers who are the subject of this book: Mary Wollstonecraft’s contemporaries, including first- and second-generation Bluestockings and gothic and historical novelists, who are often placed outside a feminist literary tradition because of their endorsement of the feminine and refined emotions she critiques in her A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). The mid-eighteenth-century explosion of literary, philosophical, and historical narratives that theorized what Scottish Enlightenment philosophers called “the progress of the female sex” not only made gender central to understandings of the civilizing process, but was also shaped by the work of these writers. A Feminine Enlightenment places this argument in conversation with recent work by J.G.A. Pocock and others on multiple Enlightenments, literary scholars on the Scottish Enlightenment, and feminist critics on women writers’ responses to Enlightenment.

Keywords:   Bluestockings, feminist history, gender, Scottish Enlightenment, women writers

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