Revising Women: Eighteenth-Century Women's Fiction and Social Engagement

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9780801870958: Revising Women: Eighteenth-Century Women's Fiction and Social Engagement
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Revising Women is a collection of essays by a distinguished group of feminist critics. Each essay is a contribution to the history of the English novel, to our understanding of literature's place in cultural debate, and to women's studies. The essays give steady attention to the ways novels participate in social processes and the ways women perceived the public sphere and stubbornly attempted to participate in it. Rich contextualization and adept use of theory reveal both the individual writer's story and the story beneath the text that is a cultural production with the potential to reveal why we and our society are as we are. Each essay develops ways of using history in relation to literature, takes up large historical events and issues, and interprets in fine detail what individuals do with them. Beginning with the fictions of the late seventeenth century, and ending with Maria Edgeworth and Jane Austen, the essays in Revising Women are characterized by informed historicizing, detailed textual explication, sophisticated feminist theory, and dedicated attention to the interrelationships between life and literary works and between everyday existence and political processes.

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Review:

"In her preface, Backscheider makes high claims for this collection as the fruit of several lifetimes' feminist rereading of 18th-century fiction. These claims turn out to be justified by a truly extraordinary book."

(Choice)

"These are valuable essays. Those who are interested in eighteenth-century English women, whether or not they are literary scholars, will find much to interest and stimulate them in this book."

(Barbara Brandon Schnorrenberg Albion)

"Written to illustrate the maturity of a discipline, the essays in Revising Women demonstrate that women writers used fiction to participate in debates taking place in the public sphere."

(Nora Nachumi JASNA News)

"The project that has engaged Paula Backscheider, one of the most prolific and prominent scholars in the field of eighteenth-century studies, is one that I believe is both heroic and potentially enduring: to reconcile the sort of thick description she favors―historical-biographical narratives that take full advantage of extant archive material and reveal richly detailed portraits of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British culture―with the lessons learned and opportunities afforded by recent literary theory."

(Richard C. Taylor NWSA Journal)

"These essays reinforce the need to reevaluate female authorship of the eighteenth century."

(Rikki Noel-Williams Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature)

"This well-conceived and exciting book brings together experts in feminist theory, all of whom utilize with sophistication the skills of historical research, biographical interpretation (including post-modern issues of the construction of the self), and cultural studies. Their names alone insure a volume well worth reading, and these essays represent the writers at their best. Their methodology often represents advances in the application and understanding of feminist theory, and is of interest to all who follow developments in that field."

(Patricia Craddock, University of Florida)

Synopsis:

A collection of essays by feminist critics. Each essay is a contribution to the history of the English novel, to our understanding of literature's place in cultural debate and to women's studies. The essays give steady attention to the ways novels participate in social processes and the ways women perceived the public sphere and stubbornly attempted to participate in it. Rich contextualization and adept use of theory reveal both the individual writer's story and the story beneath the text that is a cultural production with the potential to reveal why we and our society are as we are. Each essay develops ways of using history in relation to literature, takes up large historical events and issues, and interprets in fine detail what individuals do with them. Beginning with the fictions of the late 17th century, and ending with Maria Edgeworth and Jane Austen, the essays in "Revising Women" are characterized by informed historicizing, detailed textual explication, sophisticated feminist theory and dedicated attention to the interrelationships between life and literary works and between everyday existence and political processes.

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