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Gender, Technology and the New Woman$
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Lena Wånggren

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474416269

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474416269.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

The ‘Freedom Machine’: The New Woman and the Bicycle

The ‘Freedom Machine’: The New Woman and the Bicycle

(p.62) Chapter 3 The ‘Freedom Machine’: The New Woman and the Bicycle
Gender, Technology and the New Woman

Lena Wånggren

Edinburgh University Press

The third chapter examines the specific technology most commonly associated with the New Woman: the safety bicycle. When the safety bicycle first came into widespread use in the late 1880s it became connected with the New Woman and her ‘unsexing’ potential, with the loosening of social restrictions and with geographic mobility. Engaging first with medical as well as public debates around the perceived physical and social effects of the bicycle, along with guidebooks for female cyclists, the chapter moves on to consider how the bicycle through literature becomes a symbol of emancipation. Reading H. G. Wells Wheels of Chance (1897) and Grant Allen’s Miss Cayley’s Adventures (1899), the chapter complicates the notion of the bicycle as a democratising ‘freedom machine’, by insisting on the class specifics of the New Woman and the commercialism of the late-Victorian literary market.

Keywords:   New Woman, Bicycle, Popular fiction, Class, H. G. Wells, Grant Allen

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