Highlighting the remarkable women who found ways around the constraints placed on their intellectual growth, this collection of essays shows how their persistence opened up attributes of potent female imagination, radical endeavour, literary vigour, and self-education that compares well with male intellectual achievement in the long eighteenth century. Disseminating their knowledge through literary and documentary prose with unapologetic self-confidence, women such as Anna Barbauld, Anna Seward, Elizabeth Inchbald and Joanna Baillie usurped subjects perceived as masculine to contribute to scientific, political, philosophical and theological debate and progress. This multifaceted exploration goes beyond traditional readings of women’s creativity to add fresh, at times controversial, insights into the female view of the intellectual world. Bringing together leading experts on British women’s lives, work and writings, the volume seeks to rediscover women’s appropriations of masculine disciplines and to examine their interventions into the intellectual world. Through their engagement with a unique perspective on women’s lives and achievements, the essays make important contributions to the existing body of knowledge in this important area that will inform future scholarship.
"In British Women and the Intellectual World in the Long Eighteenth Century, Teresa Barnard and her contributors demonstrate women's substantial participation in the period's scientific, political, philosophical, and theological developments. The fresh scholarship in these essays advances our recognition of women's interventions in these crucial fields of inquiry."
- Claudia Thomas Kairoff, Wake Forest University, USA
"Scholarly in approach and presentation, this useful book has been provided with convenient footnotes rather than awkward endnotes and has a good bibliography. (…) Experts in the field will find most of the individual essays of interest."
- Caroline Franklin, Swansea University, UK
"There is much to commend in this book’s bringing together of a variety of case studies…"
- Angela Byrne, Ulster University, Northern Ireland
Part 1 An Engagement with Science:
'To bring this useful invention into fashion in England': Mary Wortley Montagu as medical expert
Daniel J. R. Grey
The lure of the volcano in the female literary imagination
Women's 'reason' for a 'rising generation': Mary Wollstonecraft, paediatric science and the child of nature
Part 2 Religious Discourses:
Anxiety, authorship, authority: the maternal feminine and the divine in Hannah More's Sacred Dramas
Rethinking surrender: Elizabeth Inchbald and the 'Catholic novel'
Veiled exegesis: dissenting women's aesthetic approach to theological hermeneutics and social action
Part 3 Radical Women, Politics, and Philosophy:
'A longing to enjoy my liberty': the patronage, writings, and picturesque tours of Elizabeth Percy, 1st Duchess of Northumberland
Coming out of the closet and competing with John Anybody: the bold world of Joanna Baillie
'France is a republic': The Canterbury Tales and Harriet Lee's revolutionary gothic